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Panel 9: Place(s)for innovation? Enduring and changing materials in the Pacific


Stéphanie Leclerc-Caffarel, Marie Durand, Aurélie Méric

Session presentation

Eschewing nature-culture dualism, researchers interested in material culture now focus primarily on modalities of perception that inform people’s understanding of materiality in tandem with dynamic interactions between human beings and their environment (Ingold 2000, Miller 2005, Lemonnier 2012). In this context, scholars have begun to reexamine materials as crucial elements to evaluate how human beings co-construct themselves and their immediate surroundings (Were 2013). Some even stress a change of paradigm from the study of objects and things to the investigation of the very matters they are made of in order to unveil the ways in which people and their environment are related through technical processes (Coupaye 2013; Brown 2004).

This panel examines how Pacific people negotiate forces of change, by attributing special proprieties and meanings to new materials, or, reversely, by reiterating traditional approaches of matter, all together (re)creating persons and places. We invite contributions based on historical research, ethnographic cases or empirical experiences and practices, engaged with the question of changing materials as well as associated techniques, gestures and meaning through time.

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