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This concluding chapter has three objectives: (1) to review the central threads of contemporary material culture research; (2) to assess material culture theoretical approaches and perspectives that offer greatest potential for future development of the field; and (3) to define material culture and the future of material culture studies in relation to the traditions of disciplinary practice.
This chapter introduces the handbook and outlines the volume’s organization, topics, themes, and intended audience. It clarifies the handbook’s goals of including both past and contemporary theory and practice as well as looking toward future trends in material culture studies. The authors discuss disciplinary contributions to material culture and provide the foundation for redefining the field’s relationship to disciplinarity. The guiding questions posed to contributing authors, what is material culture, and what are the implications of material culture scholarship, are presented. The chapter also introduces the geographic scope of the project, addressing and acknowledging differences and similarities that exist between the understanding of, framing of, and study of material culture in an international context.
Material culture studies is an interdisciplinary field that examines the relationships between people and their things: the production, history, preservation, and interpretation of objects. It draws on theory and practice from disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, such as anthropology, archaeology, history, and museum studies. Written by leading international scholars, this Handbook provides a comprehensive view of developments, methodologies and theories. It is divided into five broad themes, embracing both classic and emerging areas of research in the field. Chapters outline transformative moments in material culture scholarship, and present research from around the world, focusing on multiple material and digital media that show the scope and breadth of this exciting field. Written in an easy-to-read style, it is essential reading for students, researchers and professionals with an interest in material culture.
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