Talk given by Martin Collins entitled “What do Historians want from 'Materiality'? Reflections on Theory and the Humanities since the 1970s,” introduced by Nina Lerman.
This talk is was part of the Institute’s Colloquium 2014/15 circles around materiality as a theme in the History of Science and Technology. While physical things—stuff, objects, materials, bodies; their properties and “concrete” realities—have long populated accounts in the histories of science and technology, materiality studies emphasize the processual and reciprocal character of interactions. The artefact is thus analyzed as a relational point of interest produced and used in knowledge production; its inner workings linked to/generated by/generating a continuum or network of objects, bodies, skills, environments, politics, and publics. Speakers each month invite conversational threads: What were and are the roles of artefacts and materials in scientific and technological developments, and why and how did those change? How have the material properties of things shaped and been shaped by, coproduced, been transformed and afforded change in, environments, practices, and expressions of boundaries, truths, reliabilities? How can materiality be effectively studied, and what are useful ways of studying materiality?