Frédéric Joulian will deliver a Françoise and Georges Selz Lecture on Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century French Decorative Arts and Culture on Monday, May 8 at 6 pm. His talk is entitled “Journey into a French Material Culture Journal (Techniques & Culture, 1976–2016).”


Frédéric Joulian is an anthropologist. As a professor at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, he was Deputy Director of the Laboratory of Social Anthropology at the Collège de France and responsible for the Evolution, Natures, and Cultures Interdisciplinary Program of EHESS until 2011. He edited the interdisciplinary journal Techniques & Culture from 2006 to 2016. His research focuses on the evolutionary processes and the meanings of technical and cultural phenomena, as well as on human-animal interactions in Africa and Europe. His publications include Is Nature Cultural? (Editions Errance, 1998), The Natures of Man (with S. de Cheveigné, 2007), Dire le Savoir-Faire (with S. d’Onofrio, 2008), Anthology of Techniques & Culture (with G. Bartholeyns and N. Govoroff, 2010), and Gesture & Matter (2011). Other recent publications include Fixing the World: Excess, Leftover, and Innovation (with the MuCEM, 2016), Le Corps Instrument (with G. Bartholeyns, 2017), and a personal book retracing the dawn of his work in Africa entitled Origins of Culture: Men and Chimpanzees in Perspective.

This talk, based on the history of the Techniques & Culture research group and of the associated journal, will introduce a discussion of changes in the field of anthropology of techniques over time. He will retrace its various connections both in the editorial and museum domains. Based on the program of the 1970s, which combined structuralism, technology, and Marxism in an original way, Joulian will map the various parts of the field, which includes the sociology of innovation, the anthropology of style, experimental archaeology, and the history of technologies. He will show how these different attempts have been reconfigured at different times to maintain a strong heuristic line of approach as an alternative to the main relativistic, or naturalistic, currents. Studies of material culture are in vogue nowadays, but more than ever need to be organized and structured, not only in research, but socially through museums or new forms of web or printed expressions.