Martin Knoll Sebastian Haumann (Chair of the panel)

“Materiality”. Concepts and Potential Beyond Material Culture Studies

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“Materiality” is one of the central terms in current historiographical debates, while tat he same time referring to a rather fuzzy concept. In a very general understanding, it is used to allude to the necessity to take the “thinginess” of the world into account. However, this definition is not sufficient and it is the reason why “materiality” is often denounced as a mere buzzword. However, the number of studies that have attempted to conceptualize “materiality” beyond the established paths of material culture studies has increased considerably. A first area of research has been the history of medicine and knowledge and connected to this the history of technology and the environment. A second field of inquiry has emerged from the criticism of radical constructivism, particularly in gender studies, the history of subjectivity and political culture. Third, the debate about the material qualities of primary sources has regained momentum within broader theoretical considerations on historians’ methodology. So far, the respective concepts of “materiality” devised in these three fields of research have for the most part been discussed separately. With this session, we attempt to explore intersections and commonalities between the different proposals to conceptualize “materiality” and discuss how they can be applied in empirical studies. The session brings together heterogeneous contributions in order to stimulate the discussion on the potential of concepts of “materiality” as a linkage over a broad range of historical research.

Achim Landwehr (Düsseldorf)
Zeit der Materialität - Materialität der Zeit. Geschichtstheoretische Erkundungen
Hedwig Richter (Hamburg)
Menschenrechtsdinge. Materielle Bedingungen von Individualisierungsprozessen um 1800
Stefanie Gänger (Köln)
Materia Medica in der iberischen Welt. Materialität in der Globalgeschichte des Wissens, 1750 – 1820
Sebastian Haumann (Darmstadt)
Rohstoffe und Gefahrenstoffe. Materialität als Herausforderung der Umweltgeschichte
Sigrid Köhler (Tübingen)