Material Culture Theme Week Introduction

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Krista McCracken
Material Culture Theme week

My love of material culture is tied to my love of textiles. In particular, I love embroidery and I am interested in the use of textiles to explore personal and community connections to the past. I put the call out for this theme week with the hopes of bringing together posts that explored the impact of material culture on our understandings of the past. I also had the not so secret hope that someone might write about textiles. 

Someone did write about textiles, but this week encompasses much more than textiles as material culture. The submissions to this theme week came from a huge range of professional, personal, and regional perspectives. The posts bring together perspectives on material culture from both inside and outside academia and the range of posts really speak to the breath of the field of material culture. 

So, what exactly is material culture? At the most basic level, material culture is the study of the objects that are used by people and communities and how those objects reflect a community or inform the identity of a community. 

The study of material culture is incredibly diverse and encompasses a range of disciplines including history, sociology, anthropology, fine art, and others. People who study and preserve material culture exist in a whole range of places – museums, academia, archives, and communities. Despite the abundance of people who work with material culture, material culture tends to be underrepresented within academic historical dialogue. This series bridges academic and practitioner divides and encourages readers to reflect on how material culture interests with history, daily life, and our understand the past.

Throughout this week we hope to deepen discussions between material culture professionals,historians, and those working in the community, so please be sure to engage and further the conversation in the comments section and on Twitter. You can reach us at @ActiveHist

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