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How Materials Matter: Design, Innovation and Materiality in the Pacific

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How Materials Matter

Design, Innovation and Materiality in the Pacific

Graeme Were

212 pages, 19 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78920-201-4 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (March 2019)

eISBN 978-1-78920-202-1 eBook

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $29.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“…a wonderful contribution to the expanding and exciting field of material culture studies. With its particular regional focus, it is also a novel addition to the anthropology of the Pacific. A beautifully printed book.” • Anthropos

“The book is a welcome and novel addition to the anthropology of the Pacific through its exploration of the dynamics of materials and sociality, while also introducing readers to the realities of working with digital renderings of heritage.” • Joshua A. Bell, Smithsonian Institution


How does design and innovation shape people’s lives in the Pacific? Focusing on plant materials from the region, How Materials Matter reveals ways in which a variety of people – from craftswomen and scientists to architects and politicians – work with materials to transform worlds. Recognizing the fragile and ephemeral nature of plant fibres, this work delves into how the biophysical properties of certain leaves and their aesthetic appearance are utilized to communicate information and manage different forms of relations. It breaks new ground by situating plant materials at the centre of innovation in a region.

Graeme Were is chair and professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Bristol. He has a regional specialism in Papua New Guinea, where he has conducted ongoing ethnographic fieldwork since 2000. His published work includes Lines that Connect (2010) and Extreme Collecting (Berghahn, 2012) co-edited with J.C.H. King.

Subject: Anthropology (General) Sociology Cultural Studies (General)
Area: Asia-Pacific


List of Illustrations

Introduction: Materials and Design


Chapter 1. On the Materials of Mats
Chapter 2. Materials on the Move
Chapter 3. What’s in a Plant Leaf?


Chapter 4. Of Canoes and Troughs
Chapter 5. Enclosures and Disclosures


Chapter 6. Returning Cultural Knowledge in a Digital Design Context
Chapter 7. Material Histories and the Changing Nature of Museum Collections

Conclusion: Towards a New Understanding of Materiality


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