How materials matter

My review of Graeme Were‘s book How materials matter: design, innovation and materiality in the Pacific has just been published in Social Anthropology. Recent new materialisms and nonhuman turns have brought materiality and materials to the centre of anthropological attention. How materials matter sets out to bridge a number of different trajectories in this body of literature. It draws from both sides of what is often presented as incompatible approaches to the material world. Graeme Were pays close attention to material properties, albeit without disregarding the relational fields where knowledge, experience, and natural and socio‐political environments influence the selection and emergence of materials. Importantly, the book takes the study of materials innovation and design outside the prevalent focus on Western technoscience. Its focus on Pacific societies also raises the issue of digital return and, furthermore, digital technologies in the museum and heritage sector more broadly. In this connection, Were pushes beyond debates on authenticity and instead highlights digital technology’s productive potentials. Read the full review here or download a pdf.