Philipp Schorch gave a Brown Bag Lunch presentation on Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 12:15 pm. His talk was entitled “Mapping Mat ~ Con.”

Philipp Schorch is Marie Curie Fellow (European Commission) at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany, and Honorary Fellow at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University, Australia. He is co-editor of the volume Transpacific Americas: Encounters and Engagements between the Americas and the South Pacific (Routledge, 2016). He co-convened the international conference Curatopia: Histories, Theories, Practices (Munich, 2015), and is currently Deputy Chair of the European Society for Oceanists (ESfO).

This talk maps the three-stage project Connecting Materialities / Material Connectivities [mat ~ con], aimed at collectively thinking through connectivity and materiality. The starting point was simple: things that move and thereby connect or, the other way round, connections made through things are central to anthropology’s concerns. From the Kula Ring to the journeys of museum objects, from the travels of empire-founding Buddha statues to the logics and logistics of shipping containers, connectivity and materiality are interwoven in various but particular ways. Somewhat akin to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, we take connectivity and materiality not as defined properties of some-thing but as two interrelated modes in which an entity is, or rather is becoming, in a world. Thus, with materiality we do not mean the materials as such, but the underlying forces and potentialities as material entity. Likewise, connectivity does not denote a single connection, but the underlying mode of being or becoming connected with other entities. The question is how these two ways of existence relate and fold into each other to produce the realities we attempt to understand.

In this talk, Schorch introduced the first two mat ~ con workshops, which deployed curatorial techniques and spatial juxtapositions as research methodologies and material knowledge practices. He then discussed the concluding mat ~ con symposium, which set out to trace histories, dissect theories, scrutinize methodologies, and contextualize ethnographies from a variety of different settings, disciplinary backgrounds, and strands of thought. Working across the boundaries between anthropology, archaeology, art, curatorship, and material and visual culture studies, the objective was to bring these threads into dialogue in order to develop a conceptual frame through which connecting materialities / material connectivities can be approached, studied, and understood as transcultural, transregional, and global phenomena.