Meaning, Materiality, Media

tarot cardHow do we create meaning? Where is it? How do we as a human community or as individuals, recognize it? How do we change it? Anthropologists interested in meaning study the signs, symbols, and images that orient human communities. They ask how meaning moves between the abstract and the material world, embedded in objects or communicated by sensuous experience. The courses in MMM consider these questions, and then ask how meaning is transmitted, how technologies of the past and present circulate cultural forms, and how those forms are received, altered and recreated inside of personal lives or across entire social realms. In the MMM cluster, you will read the work of anthropologists who examine these dynamic processes, and look at everyday practices of meaning-making as they relate to cultural and economic exchange, to the sense of belonging or exclusion, and the realm of imagination and knowledge. MMM engages with broad philosophical concerns and the specific ethnographic inquiries of anthropologists who ask how we make our worlds, communicate with each other, and invent technology that mediates social relations and identities. Finally, we ask how that technological dimension of human culture takes a life of its own, shaping us as much as we shape it, burrowing through our bodies, institutions, communicative practices, cultural field, social relations, aesthetic forms, and historical consciousness.


Example Courses

  • Anthropology of Film
  • Archaeological Theory
  • Anthropology of Violence
  • Hegemony & Power
  • Biology, Technology, & Culture