Things are back. After a century of neglect, and after decades of linguistic and textual turns, there has for a while been much buzz about a material twist in the humanities and social sciences: a (re)turn to things. The fascination with Saussure, Derrida, and discourse has diminished, matter has replaced symbols, text is substituted with “flesh”, also reported as the return of the real. This project is an explicit attempt to critically scrutinize this material turn, to explore its consequences and potentials for two traditionally thing-oriented disciplines, archaeology and heritage studies, and thereby to prepare new ground for studying things in the humanities and social sciences. While acknowledging and drawing on the profound contributions to thing theory made in philosophy, science and technology studies, sociology, geography, anthropology and other fields, this project differs in accentuating a renewed trust in the material itself. It is the project’s grounding assertion that a successful turn to things cannot be accomplished through theoretical and discursive reconfigurations alone but must also be grounded in the tactile experiences that emerge from direct engagements with things, including broken and stranded things. Building on archaeology’s long and intimate engagement with things, and anchored in field studies of modern ruin landscapes and abandoned sites in Arctic Norway and NW Russia, our research will focus on three main themes: the materiality of memory, the affective aspects of material encounters, and the ethics of things. By bringing a concern with ruins and things themselves to the forefront, this project aims to develop a new platform for debating archaeology and heritage in the 21st century.

Object Matters: Archaeology and Heritage in the 21th Century is a new four-year research project funded by the Norwegian Research Council and UiT – The Arctic University of Norway. At this site you can read more about the new project and be kept updated on forthcoming activities as well as on the research conducted. The site carries on the domain name of the previous Ruin Memories site and archived material from this successful contemporary archaeology project will still be available.

Comments 3

  1. i have some comments,
    Things are things. Their form can be changeable or interchangeable but their status cant be change. things theory in social sciences discipline is like a DNA test of material to analysis and understand their various relationship with immateriality. Some research are adopting basically two type of methodologies, namely Bottom up-down. I mean they are trying to understand things in broader perspectives, micro to marco lens adopted to zoom out the things to recognised the broader nature and characteristic of things. Development and promotion process of things in society is one of the significances. On the other hands, macro to micro lens are applying to zoom in the things to understand and correlate the society with their things and intrinsic impact of society on things. things itself doesn’t have any absolute existence. things are exist because their status and nature have constant movement whatever it is dependent or independent.

  2. Would kindly ask, if possible, to receive updates / newsletters for this fascinating research project. Kind regards, Rami.

    1. Dear Rami,

      Thank you for your kind words and for taking interest in our research. The best way to receive updates from the Object Matters research project is to follow us on Twitter at @object_matters and check in regularly. News about our final research seminar in Tromsø in September will be published shortly. Some of the core themes from Object Matters will also be carried on to the new research project called Unruly Heritage where professor Bjørnar Olsen is also director. The website of Unruly Heritage may be found at unrulyheritage.com

      Kind regards,

Leave a Reply to Usman Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *