Call for Papers: Constellations of Objects

Call for papers for the conference: Constellations of objects: interactive material worlds to be held at the Pitt Rivers Museum, 5th June 2010.

The concept of assemblage seems axiomatic and is ingrained within archaeological terminology.Following the upsurge of interest in material culture studies, materiality, material agency and human-object engagements more generally, we wish to move beyond assemblage as a descriptive term for aggregates of objects to focus more specifically on how material assemblages are created, enacted and recreated over time.The affective properties of objects in the singular has attracted much discussion; we wish to build upon this work by considering how objects act together as a group. What is the role of objects in the creation of aesthetic environments? Are aesthetic environments created through object interrelations and what role does intentionality and serendipity play in the process? Are the affective properties of assemblages natural  – and thus enduring – or socially contingent? In which case, are the decisions that governed the creation of assemblages in the past recoverable in the material record as it is manifested in the present? What is our role in the re-imagining of ancient assemblages? Can there be a phenomenology of aesthetic sensibility that is valid and rigorous?

We invite papers that explore these themes in any time and in any place. Participants may like to consider them from the following perspectives:
(i) the decisions that determine the inclusion or exclusion of particular objects within specific sacred, secular or funerary environments;
(ii) the ways in which assemblages may be added to or subtracted from at different points in their life-cycle: from enactment to the point of the trowel and beyond into the museum environment; (iii) and, following the last point, how authentic our recreations of object constellations and their charismatic affect can ever be.

The organisers expect to publish presented papers in a peer-reviewed proceedings volume.

Charge: £15:00, including refreshments and wine reception.

Please submit abstracts by 31/01/2010.

Abstracts and enquiries should be sent to:
Alice Stevenson, Pitt Rivers Museum, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PP.
Linda Hulin, Institute of Archaeology, 36 Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 5BE.