Materiality of Resources

This sector deals with issues that offer the chance to point out similarities and differences of resources and ResourceComplexes studied by SFB 1070. Materiality as a concept will help to identify new aspects of resource use and to develop innovative perspectives on ResourceCultures. Returning to objects is a paradigm change for archaeology and for the first time points to new avenues of investigation in the humanities (Olsen 2003; 2010). In ‘Material Studies’ materiality is understood as everything that is assigned as a characteristic to a material. Recent approaches emphasise the processes or ‘dispositions’ (Soentgen 2014) affecting tangible objects, because their physical and chemical characteristics change in the course of time. Especially the approaches labelled as ‘New Materialism’ (Coole/Frost 2010) understand processes in a more complex way: now the multitude of interlinked (tangible) systems that produce effects are studied. In the humanities materiality is seen as a way to analyse relations between interacting entities, i.e. subject/object or human/object. Alfred Gell (1998) elaborated with the help of comparisons that all over the world, people assign intentions to objects in order to understand events. Bruno Latour (1999) demonstrated that objects have consequences for the people using them and called this the agency of objects. Ian Hodder (2012) highlighted the linked interaction of people and objects as ‘entanglement’. While Daniel Miller (1994) pointed out the ‘humility’ of things, Latour spoke about the ‘obstinacy of objects’. According to Latours’ ‘symmetrical anthropology’ (2008) man has lost the monopoly of being the sole protagonist of history and has to accept the ‘obstinacy of objects’. The agency of objects also is a central issue in the work of Tim Ingold (2010), demonstrating how interaction with the environment shapes the knowledge, the abilities and the perceptions of human beings. Studies about material culture elaborated that objects have their own vita and different spans of life. There are objects with rather short biographies such as packing material soon transformed into worthless rubbish, and objects with extremely extended biographies such as church bells that may turn into crucial factors for the creation of identity of whole communities (Miller 1994). The social relevance of objects too changes during their ‘lifes’ as Appadurai (1986) emphasised already some time ago. In museum contexts the sensual concreteness of objects is a unique feature of central importance, an aspect of renewed appreciation in such institutions. Objects enable a distinct way of thinking that is basically different from more abstract forms of knowledge creation. They allow a different perspective on social reality and are accepted as a resource in social and historical sciences (Korff 2007). A change of status from object of use to an object of reflexion or appreciation (art) is the precondition for re-valuating objects as exhibits and to intellectually and epistemically ennoble them. They turn into KnowledgeResources informing about life or fashions of the past or display their own inherent aesthetic radiance (Pomian 1998; Korff 2007; Hahn 2014).