Material culture and consumption
The study of material culture and consumption is central in social anthropological research. Since the 1980s, social anthropologists have challenged the distinction between persons and material objects.
Consumption = identity?
In a world characterized by increasing globalization consumption is a central theme, not least because consumption is a fundamental part of identity formation and raises important questions related to the distribution of power and resources, and to various forms of differentiation. Consumption is also closely linked to ownership, and claims to ownership - not only to things and territories, but also to symbols of tradition and identity.
Image: Aud Talle
The social life of things
Both the marxist and phenomenological approaches have inspired the growing interest in the "social life" of material objects. Others are interested in the meaning of things in social exchanges between people, focusing not only on objects, but also on their ability to influence people and the social networks they are a part of. Some theories have even challenged the idea of the fundamental difference between humans, animals and material objects.
At SAI, all these issues constitute part of the staff's research activity, and we have in this respect a lot in common with our colleagues at the Ethnographic Section, part of the Museum of Cultural History at UiO. The themes have many ramifications for other research fields, such as religion and rituals, the anthropology of art and visual anthropology.