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Charting Material Memories: an ethnography of visual and material transformations of woollen blankets in Canada, Aotearoa New Zealand, and the United States

McDonald, FP; (2014) Charting Material Memories: an ethnography of visual and material transformations of woollen blankets in Canada, Aotearoa New Zealand, and the United States. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Taking one thing—the industrially produced woollen blanket—as an object of investigation, this thesis sets out to bring together a study of aesthetics, materiality, and locality in relation to the woollen blanket to consider it as a possible “technology of enchantment” (Gell 1998) in both its original and transformed states. This dissertation investigates the aesthetic transformations of the woollen blanket into art, craft, and Indigenous cultural property within our current historical moment and within specific abstract and concrete localities. Two distinct locations, Aotearoa New Zealand and North America, where such acts of transformation upon woollen blankets have had a sustained presence, are examined and compared. This project attempts to address how focusing upon the acts of transformation of materials makes visible a gap in the literature where more consideration into the movement and consumption of materials simultaneously in multiple locations is needed. The dynamism of multi-vocal and, yet, intensely local uses and transformations of woollen blankets reveal that movement and consumption are together a single transformative act. What results from these acts of transformation are both tangible and intangible values that will be described through case studies of use in order to draw out the imagined futurity of woollen blankets in their ‘renewed’ forms against their historical and colonial legacies. The varied values that emerge from distinct aesthetic transformations enable a new reading of the importance of aesthetic and creative manipulations of materials and matter that informs the local take-up of an industrial product. This thesis pushes beyond a current analytical framework that has considered how objects come to be entangled in local and global meanings through either their social life or biography. Instead this thesis focuses on the intentional transformations of materials that inform larger critical arguments around how both Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals and communities fashion cultural knowledge and identity through soft materials that are themselves manifestations of the hard-edged, imperial, colonial, and industrial projects.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Charting Material Memories: an ethnography of visual and material transformations of woollen blankets in Canada, Aotearoa New Zealand, and the United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Third party copyright images have been removed from ethesis.
Keywords: Anthropology, Art, Woollen Blankets, Textiles, Material Culture, Visual Anthropology, Anthropology of Art, Metis, First Nations, Native American, Alaskan Native, Tlingit, Maori, Transformation, Craft, Regalia, Material Culture, Indigenous, Aesthetics, Craft, Consumption, Alfred Gell, Markets, Theory, Materiality, Knowledge Production, Intellectual Property, Oral History, Museum
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1447476
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