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Material Culture and the Construction of Subjects

Marie-Pierre Julien and Céline Rosselin explore the issues at stake in the close physical relationship that people have with objects, proposing that this seemingly quotidian and frequently non-verbal process is a means of constructing human beings as subjects. What is at stake in material culture is not only the production of physical environments by actors but the effects of these environments in shaping people as specific kinds of social entities.

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Material, Embodied and Lived Religion: Basket Divination in Practice and Theory

Sónia Silva draws upon her ethnographic work with basket diviners and their clients in northwest Zambia, Africa, to argue that the practice of basket divination is a material and embodied one. Further, it is a lived religion defined by the precariousness of human life and the transformative force of suffering. Without this broader existential context, basket divination would not be a lived religion.

Native Appropriation In A Hipster Heterotopia: The Headdress Phenomenon At Indie Music Festivals

Jeremy Hamilton-Arnold analyses the phenomenon of the ‘hipster headdress’ and the display of the Plains Indian war bonnets in indie music festivals as a heterotopian hipster space. Native Peoples and their allies recognize this appropriative act as offensive inauthenticity and a profane twinning of a sacred original while for the hipster it fulfills desires for an authentic, pre-modern, outsider identity.

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Clothed with Strength: Meaningful Material Practices in the Sport of CrossFit

Alexander D. Ornella explores the sport of CrossFit as meaningful material practice via the use and display of t-shirts. He provides us with a unique case study and encourages us to look at the domain of sport with new eyes, one where materials, artefacts and practices are simultaneously part of the mundane world but also transcend the ordinary and manifest transformative values.

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The Category of Person

Rane Willerslev reviews Yukaghir notions of personhood in this excerpt from his book, Soul Hunters: Hunting, Animism, and Personhood Among the Siberian Yukaghirs. Yukaghir hunters have sophisticated knowledge of the behaviors of the many species of animals they interact with in northeastern Siberia which helps them characterize these beings along a continuum of personhood; humans being just one among many varieties of persons. These rich and varied conceptualizations ramify more basic ideas about animism, demonstrating how indigenous traditions can be labeled “animistic” as a useful generalization, though this rarely means the same thing across different societies.


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