The investigation of things is an important subject across many disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. In The Social Life of Things (1988), Arjun Appadurai provided an innovative exploration of how things, as commodities, shaped their human agents, rather than the other way around — an idea that would have important repercussions for a new scholarly interest in material culture. In attempting to illuminate the problematic notion of a “Thing Theory” (2001), Bill Brown has pointed to the complex relationship between objects and things, arguing that things lie outside a simple subject-object framework, leading a multifaceted “life” that humans only glimpse rather than truly see. More recently, in Vibrant Matter (2010), Jane Bennett has investigated the political ecology of things and scholars such as Gay Hawkins (2009) and Gillian Whitlock (2010) have taken up this rich field of enquiry in their explorations of topics as diverse as cultural detritus, the posthuman, the consumption of water and plastic, and the production, dissemination and reception of testimony and artifacts concerned with asylum seekers’ life narratives.
Expressions of interest in submitting articles addressing, but not restricted to, the following research themes are welcomed:
- How can we understand “things” in relation to shifting technological and social contexts, to works of art or literature, or in relation to the cultural biographies or “lives” of things themselves?
- Where are the lines that divide the sentient from the non-sentient, the human from the non-human, and what are their consequences?
Transformations invites proposals for academic journal articles on any aspect of the theme of “Things.”
Please submit an abstract (200 words) as well as a succinct author biography (two sentences) and contact details via email to Associate Professor Jane Stadler at the University of Queensland (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 13 March 2015. Complete articles will be due by Monday 15 June 2015.