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Tim Ingold. Towards an Ecology of Materials

Professor Tim Ingold (University of Aberdeen)

Title: Towards an Ecology of Materials

Tim Ingold is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen, and a Fellow of both the British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Following 25 years at the University of Manchester, where he was appointed Max Gluckman Professor of Social Anthropology in 1995, Ingold moved in 1999 to Aberdeen, where he went on to establish the UK’s newest Department of Anthropology.

About the lecture: Both material culture studies and ecological anthropology are concerned with the material conditions of social and cultural life. Yet despite advances in each of these fields which have eroded traditional divisions between humanistic and science-based approaches, their respective practitioners continue to talk past one another in largely incommensurate theoretical languages. Through a review of recent trends in the study of material culture, the reasons for this are found to lie in: (1) a conception of the material world and the nonhuman that leaves no space for living organisms; (2) an emphasis on materiality that prioritises finished artefacts over the properties of materials, and (3) a conflation of things with objects that stops up the flows of energy and circulations of materials on which life depends. To overcome these limitations, an ecology of materials is proposed that focuses on their enrolment in form-making processes. The paper concludes with some observations on materials, mind and time.

Listen to the lecture below or download it on iTunes.