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Placing and tracing absence: A material culture of the immaterial

Abstract : This essay engages with recent work on an unusual, yet fascinating theme: absence. Two edited collections have recently been published that deal with the topic: An Anthropology of Absence: Materializations of Transcendence and Loss (Bille et al., 2010) and The Matter of Death: Space, Place and Materiality (Hockey et al., 2010). These books explore an almost counterintuitive aspect of absence: its material culture. Indeed, absence has a materiality and exists in – and has effects on – the spaces people inhabit and their daily practices and experiences. Drawing on the discussions in these two books and on other recent developments in the study of absence, this essay considers the relational ontology of absence, conceiving absence not as a thing in itself but as something that exists through relations that give absence matter. Absence, in this view, is something performed, textured and materialized through relations and processes, and via objects. We therefore need to trace absence. This entails following and describing the processes through which absence becomes matter and absence comes to matter. It means to map out, locate and follow the traces of absence and understand absences as traces, that is, as residual, incomplete, elusive, ambiguous, yet material entities.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01623906
Contributor : Morgan Meyer Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Friday, October 27, 2017 - 3:27:21 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 17, 2021 - 12:33:14 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Sunday, January 28, 2018 - 1:09:50 PM

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Morgan Meyer. Placing and tracing absence: A material culture of the immaterial. Journal of Material Culture, SAGE Publications (UK and US), 2012, 17 (1), pp.103 - 110. ⟨10.1177/1359183511433259⟩. ⟨hal-01623906⟩

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