Objects – What Matters? Technology, Value and Social Change

University of Manchester, 1-4 September 2009
As contemporary social theorists continue to signal the need to reconfigure our deliberations on the social through attention to practice, to object-mediated relations, to non-human agency and to the affective dimensions of human sociality, this conference takes as its focus the objects and values which find themselves at centre stage.
And we ask, in the context of nearly two decades of diverse disciplinary approaches to these issues, what matters about objects? How are they inflecting our understandings of technology, of expertise, and of social change? How has a focus on objects reconfigured our understandings of how values inflect the ways in which people make relations, create social worlds, and construct conceptual categories? How have objects become integral to human enthusiasms and energies, to transformational ambition, or to the transmission of values across time and space? How do objects move between ordinary and extraordinary states, shade in and out of significance, manifest instability and uncertainty? How do moral and material values attach to objects as they move in space and time? What dimensions do they inhabit and/or reveal? To address these questions papers on the following themes will be presented:
The transformational work of everyday objects; Object-centered learning; Materiality, stability and the State; Radical archives – within and beyond textual assemblages; Conceptual objects and methods as objects; Immaterial objects – haunting, virtuality, traces; Financial objects; Affective objects; Ephemera, enthusiasm and excess; Spiritual and/or moral objects; Controversial and messy objects.
Plenary Speakers
Confirmed plenary speakers to date include:
Mario Biagioli (Harvard University)
Patricia Clough (City University of New York)
Graham Harman (American University Cairo)
Chandra Mukerji (University of California, San Diego)
Annemarie Mol (University of Amsterdam)
Griselda Pollock (University of Leeds)
Kathleen Stewart (University of Texas, Austin)
Conference Convenors: Penny Harvey (Manchester), Hannah Knox (Manchester), Elizabeth Silva (Open University), Nick Thoburn (Manchester) and Kath Woodward (Open University).
Conference Administrators: Bussie Awosanya and Karen Ho
Conference Manager: Josine Opmeer
Email: CRESC.AnnualConference@manchester.ac.uk