Friday, 4 January 2008

Second Materialities workshop, Durham, 19th December

The second in the SCGRG workshop series on materialities was focused on vocabularies of materiality, exploring the relations between a set of concepts - excess/liveliness, agency/capacity, absence/presence, multiplicity/singularity. Held at Durham University, and kindly cos-sponsored by Social/Spatial Theory and Lived and Material Cultures Research Clusters, Department of Geography, Durham University.

The morning kicked off with three excellent position papers on materialites. The first, from Steve Hinchcliffe, explored the way a garden project in Birmingham was assembled through different materialities, producing different, co-existing and overlapping garden spaces. The second paper was from J D Dewsbury, who explored the movement from flesh to meaning, offering some post-Deleuzian ideas about immanence and presence. Finally, Gail Davies offered a thought-provoking exploration of the different materialities and capacities of captive experimental mice, with a particular focus on the way that animal/cultural divides are worked through in debates surrounding the science of laboratory testing. These papers were followed-up with some lively and wide ranging discussion touching on issues of biopolitics, capacity and life itself (among others).

In the afternoon, group discussions were held in which objects were taken as the basis for exploring questions of how we can deal with issues of materiality, with questions relating to the materiality of visual culture, heritage, hybridity, landscape raised in a conducive environment. The workshop finished with contributions from discussants Mike Crang, Paul Harrison and Ian Cook, and a general consensus that the event had been useful and productive as well as being throughly sociable. We look forward to the next, and final, Materialities workshop in 2008!

Thanks to Rachel Colls and Ben Anderson for convening and running so efficiently, and to Durham University for hosting the event

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