Laboratory of material culture

Sinophone project together with Dpt. of Asian Studies, Dpt. of Sociology and Cultural Anthropology and Regional Center of Advanced Technologies and Materials is jointly developing Material Culture Laboratory that will contain equipment with the ability to analyze various secular and religious objects and artefacts gathered during ethnographic fieldwork, with the main focus on fieldwork on Sinophone borderland.

The Lab will dedicated to illustrating concepts, theories and studies of cultural anthropology (as well as archaeology and linguistics) in the artefacts and social life including symbolism, myths, rituals, spirituality, shamanism, ritual functions of objects versus everyday functions of same types of objects. It will also focus on detailed material analysis which should corroborate hypothesis coming from Social science and Humanities approaches.

The intent is to create cutting edge research possibilities and enhance training experience of students and scholars in this new opened field at Palacký University. Its aim is to promote scholarship, stimulate theoretical discussion, and provide chemical, anthropological, linguistic or sociological explanation with ethnological and geographical foundation. Through these objects, students and scholars are exposed to fieldwork data, which embody the mental constructs and daily practices of people in various cultures.

Material Culture Lab holdings will include: pictorial representations or real presence of wooden, metal and ceramic objects, head covers, containers, weavings, ceremonial objects, tools, weapons, utensils, machines, ornaments, art, buildings, monuments, written records, religious images, clothing and any other ponderable objects produced or used by humans, demonstrating the use of material culture in the secular and religious lives of the cultures represented. Apart from collecting and analyzing series of object, we would focus on representative examples of material culture artifacts from following representative concepts:

Barn / Nursery
Seeds of cultural plants, agricultural instruments (manual work), horse riding objects

Armory
Objects of consciousness and markers of ethnic differences, objects of defense, amulets against evil spirits etc

Temple
Objects of luck and fortune, talismans, objects of ritual use

Food culture/Food stalls
Spoons, noodle boxes, chop sticks, plates (no groceries)

Beauty Saloon
Items of beauty for everyday use as well as for ceremonial use (wedding etc.)

The most important aspect of the Material Culture Laboratory will be the encouragement of dialogue and thought.  The lab will host a range of events including reading group, member presentations to help develop ideas, workshop days with other disciplines and a guest lectures bringing in scholars from around the world.  It will also hold occasional workshop or conference.  All of our events will be open to the wider student and academic research community.

Membership in the lab will not be exclusive, but it will require an individual to be willing to participate in laboratory events and present on occasion at one of our meetings.  Being a member means you can have access to the laboratory and its equipment for research purposes.

The Material Culture Laboratory will be always outward looking – we want to engage with others interested in material culture and discuss similarities – and differences – in how we interpret the relationship between material, things and people.

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