AAA Annual Meeting Program

AAA Annual Meeting Program Details


Session Information:
This session may be of particular interest to:  Practicing and Applied Anthropologists     Students
Program Number: 3-0760
Type: Invited Session
Session Title: THINGS IN MOTION: OBJECT HISTORIES, BIOGRAPHIES, AND ITINERARIES
Session Sponsor: Co-Sponsored by Archaeology Division
Council for Museum Anthropology
Session Date/Time: Fri., 1:45 PM-3:30 PM
Organizer(s): ROSEMARY JOYCE (University of California-Berkeley), SUSAN GILLESPIE (University of Florida) 
Chair(s): ROSEMARY JOYCE (University of California-Berkeley) 
Participants:  
1:45 PM: ANDREW RODDICK (University of Victoria) -- Tempering Time: Pottery Itineraries in the Southern Titicaca Basin, Bolivia  
2:00 PM: ELLIOT BLAIR -- Glass Beads and Global Itineraries  
2:15 PM: JONATHAN WALZ (Rollins College) -- Articulating Itineraries, Healing Intersections  
2:30 PM: SUSAN GILLESPIE (University of Florida) -- Journey's End (?): The Individual and Collective Travels of the Objects in La Venta Offering 4  
2:45 PM: NEILL WALLIS (Florida Museum of Natural History) -- Circulation Through Duplication: The Technologies and Itineraries of Woodcarvings in the Southeastern United States Through Two Millennia  
3:00 PM: HEATHER LAW -- Baskets and Basketmakers in Motion: The Archaeology of Nipmuc Social Landscapes in 19th C. New England  
3:15 PM: ALEXANDER BAUER (Queens College / City University of New York) -- The Kula of Long-Term Loans: Cultural Object Itineraries and the Promise of the Postcolonial "Universal" Museum  
3:30 PM: End of Session
Abstract: Ethnographic and archaeological researchers agree that objects accrue histories as they move from place to place, person to person. From an object-centered perspective, these histories have been usefully explored as "biographies", helping us understand the accretion of connections, sentiments, and significance over time that even humble objects can experience. As inter-personal, inter-subjective links, objects with history are critical in forming networks among human actors, including networks that persist over time. This session proposes that object histories may alternatively be viewed as itineraries, strings of places where objects come to rest or are active, the routes through which things circulate and the means by which they move. Networks composed by circulating objects are transformed into itineraries unfolding in time. Examining object itineraries requires consideration of technologies for circulation, of transformations that happen along object itineraries, and of the value of circulating objects for the production and reshaping of cultural boundaries, as much as for connections. Contributors cover the spectrum of object itineraries from the movement of materials to workshops to the incorporation of objects in museum collections and publications.

Andrew Roddick considers the production of early pottery in the Bolivian Andes and Elliot Blair the circulation of European glass beads in the colonial Americas, drawing on compositional analyses and theories of communities of practice, technological style, and taskscapes to understand the wider geographies defined as raw materials are made into objects and moved across local and global landscapes. Jonathan Walz considers how among contemporary healer-historians in Tanzania, "articulating" itineraries during medical rituals using circulated items representative of routes that crossed the countryside of 19th century East Africa begins a healing process. In a conceptual analysis of objects that came to rest together in a buried context, Susan Gillespie examines how one point in their individual itineraries forged such strong associations that individual objects became an inseparable assemblage. Gillespie and Neil Wallis explicitly consider how reproduction continues and transforms the circulation of objects. Wallis discusses partial images produced by impressing wooden carvings into ceramics that circulated in the Middle Woodland Period. He considers how archaeologists today piece together and circulate "complete" copies of the "original" woodcarvings as drawings, photographs, and digital data, and their relation to the pots that are defined as incomplete parts of a greater whole in the process. The transformations that things undergo as they move from the hands of their makers and come to rest in the hands of modern researchers also occupies Heather Law and Alexander Bauer in their papers. Law discusses the circulation of historic Nipmuc basket-makers and of the baskets they made for sale throughout New England, tracing the way that the itineraries of these mobile women and their equally mobile works delineate geographic spaces that embody their histories. Bauer continues the exploration of museums with a discussion of emerging global museum practices in which self-defined "universal" museums and source nations agree to participate in circulation of antiquities that is creating a new web of reciprocal obligation and cooperation in a postcolonial cosmopolitanism.



Schedule-at-a-Glance

If you have any questions about the program, please contact the AAA Meetings Department at aaameetings@aaanet.org.