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Things in Motion

Object Itineraries in Anthropological Practice

Edited by Rosemary A. Joyce and Susan D. Gillespie

Things in Motion, Book Cover2015. 304 pp., Figures, maps, notes, references, index, 6 x 92015. 304 pp., Figures, maps, notes, references, index, 6 x 9

Complementing the concept of object biography, the contributors to this volume use the complex construct of “itineraries” to trace the places in which objects come to rest or are active, the routes through which things circulate, and the means by which they are moved. The contributors advocate for a broader engagement with the mobility of things, from the point at which things emerge from source material to the organization of their manufacture and use, their subsequent movements as mediated by economic and ritual exchanges, their deposition in places that become archaeological sites, their emergence through research and subsequent curation in museum collections, and their circulation in the contemporary world, including through reproduction in other media. Ultimately, the contributors explore movement as a fundamental capacity of things and demonstrate the dynamic capacity of things in motion.

Advance praise for Things in Motion

Things in Motion offers a refreshing and provocative perspective that moves scholars beyond a biographical approach to objects and toward a consideration of their dynamic routes and itineraries. Global examples drawn from archaeological and museum contexts illustrate the persuasive power of these new intellectual developments. This volume will prove essential reading for all archaeologists and anthropologists currently engaged in theorizing the material world.”
—Lynn Meskell, Department of Anthropology, Director, Stanford Archaeology Center

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Contributors: Alexander Bauer, Elliot Blair, Susan D. Gillespie, Marta Diaz Guardamino, David L. Haskell, Rosemary A. Joyce, Heather Law Pezzarossi, Andrew Roddick, Neill Wallis, Jonathan R. Walz

View the Table of Contents

Download an excerpt (PDF, 1 MB).

Read Reviews

  • Things in Motion succeeds in provoking many new ways to think about how social relationships are materialized and how the movement of things creates layers of meaning. Let’s hope that further book-length treatments of these ideas follow in order to continue the dynamic conversation inspired by this volume.”
    Traci Ardren, University of Miami, American Antiquity 81(4)
  • “The book as such has an absolutely convincing argument that should have a lasting impact on the development of a theoretically informed approach to material culture. . . . [And] the volume shows a healthy mix of archaeological and ethnographic case studies. Although not stated explicitly, the collaboration between the two subdisciplines is probably one of the most fruitful options to develop a new, transdisciplinary and comprehensive notion of material culture. These minor remarks prove the value of the book’s approach, which sheds light on potential future development of a more sustainable concept of material culture.”
    Hans P. Hahn, Goethe University, Journal of Anthropological Research 73(2)
  • “Ultimately the contributors to this volume offer insightful and coherent investigations into the dynamism of material culture and the connections which can be drawn between past and present, Things in Motion adds new breadth and depth to materiality studies.”
    Lindsay M. Montgomery, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Journal of Anthropological Research, Spring 2017
  • “This text is written for theoretically engaged, museum-based and material culture-oriented anthropologists. Though many of the cases analyze archaeological materials, its emphasis on movement can be used to invigorate approaches to museum collections documentation and research, and collaborative practice in how objects—particularly those in museums—continue to be mobilized over time by anthropologists, source communities, and publics.”
    Catherine A. Nichols, Loyola University Chicago, Museum Anthropology Review, Fall 2016

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