Session Call For Papers: (Re)Imagining Materiality

Royal Geographical Society 2011 Annual Conference, 31 August – 2 September 2011
Session Call For Papers: (Re)Imagining Materiality
Sponsored by the Social & Cultural Geography Research Group
The first decade of the 21st century has been marked by growing interest in the material dimension of the social, and the role objects and materials play in multiple areas of social interaction. The ‘material turn’ has an implicit normative dimension at a time when the material resources of the planet are under increasing stress, and when the dependence of particular lifestyles on specific interactions with the material world is becoming ever more apparent. Central to these necessarily interrelated concerns are notions of resource use, the production and consumption of materials and material goods, and their multiple impacts in social, environmental and economic domains, including the effects of the processes of ‘wasting’. As knowledge of the potential repercussions of these global challenges underlines the need for significant shifts in the ways in which we resource, produce, consume and interact with material goods, we are forced to question some of the central concepts that underpin our relationship with material culture. Questioning, indeed, reimagining these concepts – such as value, materiality and waste – could be key to facilitating the move to living more closely within our means.
In this session we invite papers that deal with concepts of materiality, value and waste, their interlinkages, and their place(s) within the nexus of current social, environmental and economic challenges. Papers might, amongst other things, address:
• the nature and implications of the socio-culturally shaped definitions of these concepts – how notions of ‘value’ might be understood to be changing, for example;
• the interrelations between concepts of transience and durability, both of material items and our relationships with them;
• the role of design in informing, enabling and constraining human-object relationships;
• relationships with particular materialities such as landscapes, souvenirs, clothing etc.;
• the meanings and impacts associated with commodity chains and their legacies, as well as other ways in which objects move, shifting the definitions applied to them as they change context;
• cultures of production and consumption, including the notion of ethical production/consumption, the meanings that individuals bring to these processes, how these meanings emerge and how they determine subsequent actions;
• particular conceptual and methodological approaches such as social practice theory, actor-network theory, or commodity chain studies that might illuminate these debates.
We invite contributions that open up the discussion of how rethinking and reimagining value, waste, materiality, and other associated ideas in the contexts of production and consumption geographies might in turn recast our relations with the material world. Papers may present conceptual ideas, recent empirical work or methodological approaches related to one or more of these themes.
Abstracts of no more than 250 words should be sent to: Rebecca Collins, UCL,
Deadline for submission: Wednesday 9th February 2011