Call for Papers: Understanding Material Loss

CfP: Understanding Material Loss Across Time and Space Conference
17-18 February 2017, University of Birmingham

Please find the CfP attached. Further details can be found here: https://understandingmaterialloss2017.wordpress.com/

Understanding Material Loss intends to examine the usefulness of ‘loss’ as an analytical framework across different disciplines and subfields, but principally within historical studies. Loss and absence are slowly being recognized as significant factors in historical processes, particularly in relation to the material world. Archaeologists, anthropologists, philosophers, literary scholars, sociologists and historians have increasingly come to understand the material world as an active and shaping force. Nevertheless, while significant, such studies have consistently privileged material presence as the basis for understanding how and why the material world has played an increasingly important role in the lives of humans. In contrast, Understanding Material Loss suggests that instances of absence, as much as presence, provide important means of understanding how and why the material world has shaped human life and historical processes.

Speculative and exploratory in nature, Understanding Material Loss asserts that in a period marked by ecological destruction, but also economic austerity, large scale migration and increasing resource scarcity, it is important that historians work to better understand the ways in which humans have responded to material loss in the past and how such responses have shaped change. Understanding Material Loss asks: how have humans historically responded to material loss and how has this shaped historical processes? The conference will bring together a range of scholars in an effort more to begin to explore and frame a problem, than provide definitive answers.

Confirmed keynote speakers include:

  • Professor Pamela Smith, History, Columbia
  • Simon Werrett, Science and Technology Studies, UCL
  • Professor Maya Jasanoff, History, Harvard
  • Professor Jonathan Lamb, English, Vanderbilt
  • Professor Anthony Bale, English and Humanities, Birkbeck
  • Astrid Swenson, Politics and History, Brunel

Understanding Material Loss seeks to uncover the multiple practices and institutions that emerged in response to different forms of material loss in the past and asks, how has loss shaped (and been shaped by) processes of acquisition, possession, stability, abundance and permanence? By doing so it seeks to gauge the extent to which ‘loss’ can be used as an organizing framework of study across different disciplines and subfields. Understanding Material Loss seeks papers from across a variety of time periods and geographies. Although open and speculative in nature, this conference will focus on three broad topics within the wider rubric of loss, in order to facilitate meaningful conversations and exchanges.


Categories: Conferences

Leave a Reply

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