Art 326

Material Worlds: Skilled Craftsmanship and Symbolic Technologies in Africa and the Near East

Full course for one semester. This course investigates technological processes of artifact production in ancient and traditional societies in the Near East and Africa. Recently, interdisciplinary interest has emerged in the concept of "technological style" to explore the cultural processes of the making of things as the main constituent of their symbolism, meaning and style. We will explore several case studies drawn from archaeological and ethno-archaeological work. While post-colonial ethnographies will be used to explore social relations behind craftsmanship and technologies of production, archaeological material from the Near East will be studied comparatively. This involves monuments such as Neo-Assyrian palaces or the reed mudhif of Marsh Arabs, and artifacts such as Phoenician ivories or the Afro-Portuguese brasswork of Benin. Formation and circulation of craft knowledge, cultural biography of artifacts, cultural identities and collective memory, materiality and representationality of artifacts will be central in class discussions. Prerequisite: Art 201 or Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Cross-listed as Anthropology 326.

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