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Furthering the Environmental Turn | Journal of American History | Oxford Academic
As the field has become more diverse, what binds it together is a strongly held belief that material environments—for all their sociality, historicity, and constructedness—always matter to history. In Ellen Stroud's apt phrase, environmental historians “follow the dirt.” Scholars working in the most technically advanced and technologically mediated society have shown over the last two decades just how true that is. In fact, Sutter's overview can and should be read in that vein. The topics he covers—the state, agriculture, disease and health, cities and built environments—have extensive historiographies that are overwhelmingly nonenvironmental. In every case, however, environmental history has shifted our perspective on these topics. Environmental pollution and resource exploitation not only gave rise to new regulatory powers and bureaucracies; they also played a key role in producing certain kinds of knowledge and in changing the relationship between the state and other elements of society. Agriculture is increasingly understood not as successful or destructive, modern or traditional, but as a series of material exchanges and negotiations, and a process (sometimes) of environmental learning. Histories of disease and health, and their perception, are no longer complete without reference to the changing environments in which pathogens, ailments, and cures emerged. Built environments are surely products of social relations, but those social relationships are mediated and ultimately reinforced or undermined through existing material environments and nonhuman species: rivers, tidelands, coal seams, seismic faults, and rats, to name only a few. Even those scholars concerned primarily with discourses about nature are ultimately concerned with how those discourses ramify in the material world.5

5. Ellen Stroud, “Does Nature Always Matter? Following Dirt through History,” History and Theory, 42 (Dec. 2003), 75–81. Environmental history shares important concerns with material culture studies. See Dan Hicks and Mary C. Beaudry, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies (New York, 2010).
material_culture  environment  history 
november 2017 by jfbeatty
On Cards, Card-Based Systems, and the Material Cultures of Computing – Medium
I want to conclude on this note about the enduring qualities of cards. Perhaps the cards that I value the most are the handful of index cards on which various friends and relatives have written down recipes and passed them onto me. These are little bits of data, and I’ve kept them with me for decades, and I hope to keep them with me for decades more.
I’ve had dozens of email addresses that are now inactive, created several webpages that are now only partially accessible via the Wayback Machine. Social media platforms have come and gone, and with them, my data. Cards represent a relationship, they represent an interaction, and they demonstrate this in a persistent, tactile and material way that’s been unmatched by any other technology.
notetaking  material_culture 
march 2017 by jfbeatty
Innovation is overvalued. Maintenance often matters more | Aeon Essays
Beginning in the late 1950s, the prominent economists Robert Solow and Kenneth Arrow found that traditional explanations – changes in education and capital, for example – could not account for significant portions of growth. They hypothesised that technological change was the hidden X factor. Their finding fit hand-in-glove with all of the technical marvels that had come out of the Second World War, the Cold War, the post-Sputnik craze for science and technology, and the post-war vision of a material abundance.

Robert Gordon’s important new book, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, offers the most comprehensive history of this golden age in the US economy. As Gordon explains, between 1870 and 1940, the United States experienced an unprecedented – and probably unrepeatable – period of economic growth. That century saw a host of new technologies and new industries produced, including the electrical, chemical, telephone, automobile, radio, television, petroleum, gas and electronics. Demand for a wealth of new home equipment and kitchen appliances, that typically made life easier and more bearable, drove the growth. After the Second World War, Americans treated new consumer technologies as proxies for societal progress.

... this need for booming new industries became problematic as the United States headed into the troubled times of the 1970s and early 1980s. Whole economic sectors, the auto industry, for example, hit the skids. A new term – ‘innovation policy’ – arose, designed to spur economic growth by fostering technological change, particularly in the face of international economic competition from Japan. Silicon Valley, a term that had just emerged in the late 1970s, became the exemplar of innovation during this time... By the early 1980s, books casting Silicon Valley as a land of almost magical technological ingenuity had begun to hit the market. Innovation policy turned to focus more and more on ‘regional innovation systems’ and ‘innovation clusters’. Everywhere was potentially the next Silicon Valley of X. This theme of locality reached its apotheosis in Richard Florida’s 2002 book, The Rise of the Creative Class...

During the 1990s, scholars and pop audiences also rediscovered the work of Joseph Schumpeter. Schumpeter was an Austrian economist who championed innovation and its partner term, entrepreneurship.... Neo-Schumpeterian thought sometimes led to a mountain of dubious scholarship and magical thinking, most notably, Clayton M Christensen’s 1997 tome, The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business. Now mostly discredited, Christensen’s work exerted tremendous influence, with its emphasis on ‘disruptive’ technologies that undermined whole industries to make fortunes...

At the turn of the millennium, in the world of business and technology, innovation had transformed into an erotic fetish. Armies of young tech wizards aspired to become disrupters....

Evidence has emerged that regions of intense innovation also have systemic problems with inequality. In 2013, protests erupted in San Francisco over the gentrification and social stratification symbolised by Google buses and other private commuter buses....

First, it is crucial to understand that technology is not innovation. Innovation is only a small piece of what happens with technology. This preoccupation with novelty is unfortunate because it fails to account for technologies in widespread use, and it obscures how many of the things around us are quite old. In his book, Shock of the Old (2007), the historian David Edgerton examines technology-in-use. He finds that common objects, like the electric fan and many parts of the automobile, have been virtually unchanged for a century or more. ...the most remarkable tales of cunning, effort, and care that people direct toward technologies exist far beyond the same old anecdotes about invention and innovation.

Second, by dropping innovation, we can recognise the essential role of basic infrastructures. ‘Infrastructure’ is a most unglamorous term, the type of word that would have vanished from our lexicon long ago if it didn’t point to something of immense social importance. Remarkably, in 2015 ‘infrastructure’ came to the fore of conversations in many walks of American life.

...The best of these conversations about infrastructure move away from narrow technical matters to engage deeper moral implications. Infrastructure failures – train crashes, bridge failures, urban flooding, and so on – are manifestations of and allegories for America’s dysfunctional political system, its frayed social safety net, and its enduring fascination with flashy, shiny, trivial things. But, especially in some corners of the academic world, a focus on the material structures of everyday life can take a bizarre turn, as exemplified in work that grants ‘agency’ to material things or wraps commodity fetishism in the language of high cultural theory, slick marketing, and design. For example, Bloomsbury’s ‘Object Lessons’ series features biographies of and philosophical reflections on human-built things, like the golf ball. ...

Third, focusing on infrastructure or on old, existing things rather than novel ones reminds us of the absolute centrality of the work that goes into keeping the entire world going. Despite recurring fantasies about the end of work or the automation of everything, the central fact of our industrial civilisation is labour, and most of this work falls far outside the realm of innovation. ...

The most unappreciated and undervalued forms of technological labour are also the most ordinary: those who repair and maintain technologies that already exist, that were ‘innovated’ long ago. This shift in emphasis involves focusing on the constant processes of entropy and un-doing – which the media scholar Steven Jackson calls ‘broken world thinking’ – and the work we do to slow or halt them, rather than on the introduction of novel things...

In recent years, scholars have produced a number of studies of people who do this kind of work. For example, the science studies researcher Lilly Irani has examined the work low-wage labourers do to scrub digital information for the web, including Indian workers who check advertisements to ‘filter out porn, alcohol, and violence’. Why not extend this style of analysis to think more clearly about subjects such as ‘cybersecurity’? The need for coders and programmers in the cybersecurity field is obvious...

This realisation has significant implications for gender relations in and around technology. Feminist theorists have long argued that obsessions with technological novelty obscures all of the labour, including housework, that women, disproportionately, do to keep life on track. Domestic labour has huge financial ramifications but largely falls outside economic accounting, like Gross Domestic Product. In her classic 1983 book, More Work for Mother, Ruth Schwartz Cowan examined home technologies – such as washing machines and vacuum cleaners – and how they fit into women’s ceaseless labour of domestic upkeep. ...

...scholars can confront various kinds of low-wage labour performed by many African-Americans, Latinos, and other racial and ethnic minorities....

Innovation-speak worships at the altar of change, but it rarely asks who benefits, to what end? A focus on maintenance provides opportunities to ask questions about what we really want out of technologies. What do we really care about? What kind of society do we want to live in? Will this help get us there? We must shift from means, including the technologies that underpin our everyday actions, to ends, including the many kinds of social beneficence and improvement that technology can offer.
innovation  consumerism  material_culture  political_economy  repair  maintenance  disruption  technology  media_history  labor  via:shannon_mattern 
february 2017 by tonyyet
Granite Geek: Why Do Mathematicians Love Blackboards So Much? | New Hampshire Public Radio
Another thing he talked about that’s actually useful, and this is my favorite one, he said that blackboards smudge productively, which is just a great line. You know, you’re writing on a blackboard and oops, you make a mistake, you can rub it out with your hand, or you rub it out with an eraser. And it’s really easy to do. But it’s really hard to do it completely. You can’t get rid of it entirely. There’s always a little bit of a smudge and you write over it. And I’ve always thought that was a bad thing. And he argues that for mathematics, and particularly mathematics research, it’s a good thing because a lot of math research involves taking existing concepts and applying them in new ways. And so if you’ve written an existing equation everybody’s familiar with and then rubbed out a part of it and written something new over it, there is a visual sign that you have taken an existing concept and tweaked it, which is sort of like a reminder to the people in the audience that this is how you approach it. This is not some new thing you’ve brought down from on high, it’s an alteration of an existing one.
notetaking  material_culture  math 
february 2017 by jfbeatty
Object Lessons: the story of material education in eight chapters | Material World
Today, knowledge about materials, their origins, and processing is more valued and desired than ever before. At the same time, such knowledge is specialized, concealed, and the domain of experts. How can it be made available to everyone?

From September 16, 2016 until January 16, 2017, the Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge will show the special exhibition Object Lessons: The Story of Material Education in 8 Chapters.

This exhibition recounts the story of learning with, about, and through materials: in science, at school, in commerce, craft and at home, in novels and movies, in the archive and on the Internet.

From tree compendiums, slag gravel, and sea silk to rabbit tails, cork stoppers and cloud leather, the exhibition ranges from historical DIY books to a digital material archive to show that material literacy has always been relevant, why it was forgotten, and what it may look like in the future....

The center piece of the exhibition is an Object Lesson Box: a small cabinet developed for teaching purposes in the 19th century that contains over a hundred materials, including plaster, gold leaf, sugar and rice. The book and the box are the tactile legacy of Charles and Elizabeth Mayo, who converted Swiss reformer Johann Pestalozzi’s illustrative education into their own structured teaching concept. Here children are encouraged through exemplary dialogue to explore different materials by looking, touching, smelling, and tasting. According to this method, knowledge is gained not only through the characteristics of things, but also through language, local customs, and science....

With delicate samples of animal hair and heavy rocks, the Object Lesson SAMPLES, SETS, REFERENCES offers insights into material’s role in science education: what appears to be the same is differentiated ad infinitum or even destroyed to learn about all of its details. A drug box that was used in pharmacology teachings serves as a link to the third Object Lesson CHALK, COAL, PAPER. Placed behind glass, educational material can no longer be touched....

In the seventh Object Lesson GOOD AND ATTRATCTIVE, material education with the aid of the so-called ‘Werkbundkisten’ during the 1950s and 60s is addressed. These boxes were conceived as a means for taste education in schools by the Deutscher Werkbund who, since its foundation in 1907, served as a mediator of product qualities such as function, form, and material. Showing the topicality of taste education, a seemingly outdated concept, a ‘Werkbundkiste’ will be equipped with new materials for this exhibition, critically scrutinizing whether sustainable or recycled materials are always morally ‘good.’...

The Swiss MATERIAL ARCHIV is featured in the last Object Lesson ARCHIVE, LIBRARY, NETWORK, facilitating a hands-on interaction with material. Combining a digital information network with tangible samples, the MATERIAL ARCHIV is the contemporary counterpart of Mayo’s historic cabinet whose ambitious goal to carry the whole world of materials within itself was limited due to its confined format. Today’s digital archive, however, can include every material there is and ever will be, showing material education’s potential future.
kits  objects  things  pedagogy  models  material_culture  exhibitions  samples  archives 
august 2016 by shannon_mattern
A Magical Reorientation of the Modern: Professional Organizers and Thingly Care in Contemporary North America — Cultural Anthropology
Professional Organizers (POs) like Fran are keen observers of how people relate to and manage their material possessions. Many express an almost anthropological desire to understand their clients’ attachments to things and, more broadly, to reflect on the stuff of contemporary North American life. It’s not just the extreme cases of acquisition, accumulation, or excess that POs find interesting or worthy of discussion, but also the mundane, ordinary things that settle into our daily lives—the paper clutter (receipts, tax documents, letters, junk mail), the plastic goods, the useless kitchen gadgets, the kids’ artwork, the new-but-soon-to-be-obsolete electronic devices, and the things we inherit when a parent or loved one dies.

A seemingly simple question had led me to seek out and talk to POs in Toronto: how, in North America and at this particular historical moment, are we to manage and be with our ever-expanding world of material things? Already I had come across a strong prescription about how not to be: according to the newly defined Hoarding Disorder diagnosis in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V; American Psychiatric Association 2013), pathological hoarding has as much to do with the improper management and organization of objects as it does with excessive accumulation. Here consumption remains a late capitalist raison d’être, but it must, above all, be properly managed. One must not only know what to keep and what to discard, but how to arrange and store objects in their proper place....

Drawing on insights offered by the anthropologist Mary Douglas (1966) in Purity and Danger, I take as a point of departure the idea that disorder is a far from natural or absolute category. Rather, the practice of naming disorder and making order is both instrumental and highly symbolic; it serves to distinguish social and moral categories and draw boundaries between different kinds of people, not just through an appeal to hygiene, health, or self-improvement but also through the production of specific structures of feeling and affect—fear, disgust, vigilance, revulsion, pity, and self-righteousness—that in turn serve to maintain these distinctions. Discourses of order and disorder, I suggest, carry within them strong judgments about virtue, affluence, and class....

Drawing on interviews and fieldwork encounters with twenty-one POs in Toronto and throughout southern Ontario, I describe how they aim to reorient their clients materially, morally, and affectively by reordering their habits and things.3 In theory, POs endeavor to bring people’s overpowering relationships with their material possessions into line with a specific regime of caring for, with, and about things that is predicated on an absolute distinction between subject and object. In practice, however, many POs find themselves immersed in a reality that is more vibrant-materialist than it is Cartesian. The organizers fully recognize the complex ways that people become attached to, intermingled with, and even dispersed in things, and their work requires them to regularly plunge into and manipulate this world of “vibrant matter”...

As the visible absence of clutter signals affluence, it may also signal virtue; the two are, in fact, closely intertwined. In the pages of home and lifestyle magazines like Real Simple and in larger public conversations about consumption these days, there exists a strong moralizing discourse about the merits of moderation, self-regulation, and self-discipline amid endless possibilities for acquisition and accumulation.
organization  collection  things  hoarding  material_culture  materialism  ethics  minimalism 
august 2016 by shannon_mattern
Peter S. Wells - How Ancient Europeans Saw the World: Vision, Patterns, and the Shaping of the Mind in Prehistoric Times. (eBook, Paperback 2015 and Hardcover 2012) - Princeton University Press
The peoples who inhabited Europe during the two millennia before the Roman conquests had established urban centers, large-scale production of goods such as pottery and iron tools, a money economy, and elaborate rituals and ceremonies. Yet as Peter Wells argues here, the visual world of these late prehistoric communities was profoundly different from those of ancient Rome's literate civilization and today's industrialized societies. Drawing on startling new research in neuroscience and cognitive psychology, Wells reconstructs how the peoples of pre-Roman Europe saw the world and their place in it. He sheds new light on how they communicated their thoughts, feelings, and visual perceptions through the everyday tools they shaped, the pottery and metal ornaments they decorated, and the arrangements of objects they made in their ritual places--and how these forms and patterns in turn shaped their experience.

How Ancient Europeans Saw the World offers a completely new approach to the study of Bronze Age and Iron Age Europe, and represents a major challenge to existing views about prehistoric cultures. The book demonstrates why we cannot interpret the structures that Europe's pre-Roman inhabitants built in the landscape, the ways they arranged their settlements and burial sites, or the complex patterning of their art on the basis of what these things look like to us. Rather, we must view these objects and visual patterns as they were meant to be seen by the ancient peoples who fashioned them.

Peter S. Wells is professor of anthropology at the University of Minnesota. His many books include Barbarians to Angels: The Dark Ages Reconsidered and The Barbarians Speak: How the Conquered Peoples Shaped Roman Europe (Princeton).

This is a most important book. Wells argues that after 200 BC Eurasia moved generally toward the mass production and consumption of artifacts and that this changed people's relationships with the world, in turn altering the nature of experience. How Ancient Europeans Saw the World is thought-provoking and provocative."--Chris Gosden, author of Prehistory: A Very Short Introduction -- Chapter 1 downloaded to Tab S2
books  kindle-available  downloaded  Bronze_Age  prehistoric  ancient_Rome  barbarians  material_culture  mass-produced_articles  archaeology  art_history  visual_culture  cultural_change  burial_practices  decorative_arts 
august 2016 by dunnettreader
Innovation is overvalued. Maintenance often matters more | Aeon Essays
Beginning in the late 1950s, the prominent economists Robert Solow and Kenneth Arrow found that traditional explanations – changes in education and capital, for example – could not account for significant portions of growth. They hypothesised that technological change was the hidden X factor. Their finding fit hand-in-glove with all of the technical marvels that had come out of the Second World War, the Cold War, the post-Sputnik craze for science and technology, and the post-war vision of a material abundance.

Robert Gordon’s important new book, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, offers the most comprehensive history of this golden age in the US economy. As Gordon explains, between 1870 and 1940, the United States experienced an unprecedented – and probably unrepeatable – period of economic growth. That century saw a host of new technologies and new industries produced, including the electrical, chemical, telephone, automobile, radio, television, petroleum, gas and electronics. Demand for a wealth of new home equipment and kitchen appliances, that typically made life easier and more bearable, drove the growth. After the Second World War, Americans treated new consumer technologies as proxies for societal progress.

... this need for booming new industries became problematic as the United States headed into the troubled times of the 1970s and early 1980s. Whole economic sectors, the auto industry, for example, hit the skids. A new term – ‘innovation policy’ – arose, designed to spur economic growth by fostering technological change, particularly in the face of international economic competition from Japan. Silicon Valley, a term that had just emerged in the late 1970s, became the exemplar of innovation during this time... By the early 1980s, books casting Silicon Valley as a land of almost magical technological ingenuity had begun to hit the market. Innovation policy turned to focus more and more on ‘regional innovation systems’ and ‘innovation clusters’. Everywhere was potentially the next Silicon Valley of X. This theme of locality reached its apotheosis in Richard Florida’s 2002 book, The Rise of the Creative Class...

During the 1990s, scholars and pop audiences also rediscovered the work of Joseph Schumpeter. Schumpeter was an Austrian economist who championed innovation and its partner term, entrepreneurship.... Neo-Schumpeterian thought sometimes led to a mountain of dubious scholarship and magical thinking, most notably, Clayton M Christensen’s 1997 tome, The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business. Now mostly discredited, Christensen’s work exerted tremendous influence, with its emphasis on ‘disruptive’ technologies that undermined whole industries to make fortunes...

At the turn of the millennium, in the world of business and technology, innovation had transformed into an erotic fetish. Armies of young tech wizards aspired to become disrupters....

Evidence has emerged that regions of intense innovation also have systemic problems with inequality. In 2013, protests erupted in San Francisco over the gentrification and social stratification symbolised by Google buses and other private commuter buses....

First, it is crucial to understand that technology is not innovation. Innovation is only a small piece of what happens with technology. This preoccupation with novelty is unfortunate because it fails to account for technologies in widespread use, and it obscures how many of the things around us are quite old. In his book, Shock of the Old (2007), the historian David Edgerton examines technology-in-use. He finds that common objects, like the electric fan and many parts of the automobile, have been virtually unchanged for a century or more. ...the most remarkable tales of cunning, effort, and care that people direct toward technologies exist far beyond the same old anecdotes about invention and innovation.

Second, by dropping innovation, we can recognise the essential role of basic infrastructures. ‘Infrastructure’ is a most unglamorous term, the type of word that would have vanished from our lexicon long ago if it didn’t point to something of immense social importance. Remarkably, in 2015 ‘infrastructure’ came to the fore of conversations in many walks of American life.

...The best of these conversations about infrastructure move away from narrow technical matters to engage deeper moral implications. Infrastructure failures – train crashes, bridge failures, urban flooding, and so on – are manifestations of and allegories for America’s dysfunctional political system, its frayed social safety net, and its enduring fascination with flashy, shiny, trivial things. But, especially in some corners of the academic world, a focus on the material structures of everyday life can take a bizarre turn, as exemplified in work that grants ‘agency’ to material things or wraps commodity fetishism in the language of high cultural theory, slick marketing, and design. For example, Bloomsbury’s ‘Object Lessons’ series features biographies of and philosophical reflections on human-built things, like the golf ball. ...

Third, focusing on infrastructure or on old, existing things rather than novel ones reminds us of the absolute centrality of the work that goes into keeping the entire world going. Despite recurring fantasies about the end of work or the automation of everything, the central fact of our industrial civilisation is labour, and most of this work falls far outside the realm of innovation. ...

The most unappreciated and undervalued forms of technological labour are also the most ordinary: those who repair and maintain technologies that already exist, that were ‘innovated’ long ago. This shift in emphasis involves focusing on the constant processes of entropy and un-doing – which the media scholar Steven Jackson calls ‘broken world thinking’ – and the work we do to slow or halt them, rather than on the introduction of novel things...

In recent years, scholars have produced a number of studies of people who do this kind of work. For example, the science studies researcher Lilly Irani has examined the work low-wage labourers do to scrub digital information for the web, including Indian workers who check advertisements to ‘filter out porn, alcohol, and violence’. Why not extend this style of analysis to think more clearly about subjects such as ‘cybersecurity’? The need for coders and programmers in the cybersecurity field is obvious...

This realisation has significant implications for gender relations in and around technology. Feminist theorists have long argued that obsessions with technological novelty obscures all of the labour, including housework, that women, disproportionately, do to keep life on track. Domestic labour has huge financial ramifications but largely falls outside economic accounting, like Gross Domestic Product. In her classic 1983 book, More Work for Mother, Ruth Schwartz Cowan examined home technologies – such as washing machines and vacuum cleaners – and how they fit into women’s ceaseless labour of domestic upkeep. ...

...scholars can confront various kinds of low-wage labour performed by many African-Americans, Latinos, and other racial and ethnic minorities....

Innovation-speak worships at the altar of change, but it rarely asks who benefits, to what end? A focus on maintenance provides opportunities to ask questions about what we really want out of technologies. What do we really care about? What kind of society do we want to live in? Will this help get us there? We must shift from means, including the technologies that underpin our everyday actions, to ends, including the many kinds of social beneficence and improvement that technology can offer.
innovation  consumerism  material_culture  political_economy  repair  maintenance  disruption  technology  media_history  labor 
april 2016 by shannon_mattern
The Ethics of Aesthetics: Archives and Access in the Digital Landscape - Mukurtu CMS
Although physical archives were never intended to be input only places,  archives are often  defined as places where one “deposits” materials, scholars do so at the end of their careers or their families do upon the end of the academics life. Archives are endings. Over the last ten years with digital tools and platforms that rely on and privilege user-generated content growing in popularity, the process and practices of curation as imagined within the digital landscape have been linked to outward facing, export process and practices. Indeed the read/write and input/export model is undone in the new workflow models for digital curation and digital archiving practices where viewing, displaying and remixing archival materials becomes more central. However, both online and offline, the act of looking and the necessity of seeing are privileged.
The aesthetic experience is defined by the ability and expectation of seeing the archival materials–art, culture, history, etc. Viewing provides pleasure and the aesthetic experience is valued in and of itself as conferring knowledge on those who engage with its form. What if this experience were interrupted by practices and protocols of not seeing? In Australia, Aboriginal practices of masking, deleting, defaming and hiding images, objects, and artifacts based on cultural protocols disrupt the act of looking and the privileging of display as a precursor to knowledge acquisition. Digital archive platforms and new online exhibits define a different mode of knowledge making and circulation. This presentation explores Mukurtu CMS (www.mukurtu.org) as one avenue for understanding the ethics of aesthetics in digital spaces and a new model of curation that follows.
archives  interfaces  invisibility  ethics  material_culture  aborigines  curating 
august 2015 by shannon_mattern
The Evolution of Phylogenetic Systematics - Edited by Andrew Hamilton - E-Book - University of California Press
.. aims to make sense of the rise of phylogenetic systematics—its methods, its objects of study, and its theoretical foundations—with contributions from historians, philosophers, and biologists. (...) an intellectual agenda for the study of systematics and taxonomy in a way that connects classification with larger historical themes in the biological sciences, including morphology, experimental and observational approaches, evolution, biogeography, debates over form and function, character transformation, development, and biodiversity. It aims to provide frameworks for answering the question: how did systematics become phylogenetic? -- the 1st Chapter excerpt is a fabulous history of "waves" of new species identification of primarily mammals tied to intellectual, social, economic, cultural and geopolitical history -- his case study is the shift to N American museums organizing large numbers of surveys collecting many samples that gave data on varieties within same species, varying ecologies, etc in the "inner frontiers" in the late19thC and early 20thC -- possible due to "the logic of capital" (railroads penetrating regions to foreclose competition, land speculators), curators leaving the city to obtain materials for the fashion in diaoramas, patronage newly attracted, white collar middle class embracing self-improvement via nature study on holiday, new conservationist attitudes toward Nature etc.
books  kindle-available  biology  taxonomies  species  natural_history  evolutionary_biology  phylogenetics  history_of_science  18thC  19thC  20thC  public_sphere  science-public  cultural_history  cultural_change  material_culture  frontier  leisure  exploration  colonialism  imperialism  museums  collections  virtuosos  scientific_culture  nature  nature-mastery  conservation  self-development 
july 2015 by dunnettreader
Alan Jacobs - the three big stories of modernity | TextPatterns July 2015
So far there have been three widely influential stories about the rise of modernity: the Emancipatory, the Protestant, and the Neo-Thomist. (..) all these narrators of modernity see our own age as one in which the consequences of 500-year-old debates conducted by philosophers and theologians are still being played out. I think all of these narratives are wrong. They are wrong because they are the product of scholars in universities who overrate the historical importance and influence of other scholars in universities, and because they neglect ideas that connect more directly with the material world. All of these grands recits should be set aside, and they should not immediately be replaced with others, but with more particular, less sweeping, and more technologically-oriented stories. The technologies that Marshall McLuhan called "the extensions of Man" are infinitely more important for Man's story, for good and for ill, than the debates of the schoolmen and interpreters of the Bible. Instead of grand narratives of the emergence of The Modern we need something far more plural: technological histories of modernity.
Instapaper  cultural_history  cultural_capital  modernity  technology  Tech/Culture  social_theory  intellectual_history  intellectual_history-distorted  religious_history  Thomism-21stC  Reformation  Renaissance  Enlightenment  Enlightenment_Project  Enlightenment-ongoing  modernity-emergence  material_culture  economic_history  Great_Divergence  Industrial_Revolution  colonialism  Military_Revolution  Scientific_Revolution  consumer_revolution  technology-history  historiography  medicine  public_health  public_sphere  public_goods  media  print_culture  history_of_science  history_of_book  history-and-social_sciences  narrative  narrative-contested  from instapaper
july 2015 by dunnettreader
Unfinished Business: 21st Century Home Economics: Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
The new exhibit tells the untold story of the first generation of home economists who were equal rights advocates, chemists and public health advocates, labor reformers and innovators who sought to redefine domesticity. Filled with participatory experiences and hands-on activities, the exhibit describes the home economists’ visionary work to create a world with healthy food for all, fair labor practices for domestic work, ethical consumerism, and community childcare solutions.
material_culture  home  exhibitions  home_economics  domestic  labor  feminism  food 
may 2015 by shannon_mattern

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