Material Culture in Folklife Studies

Robert Saint George

in The Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780199218714
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

 Material Culture in Folklife Studies

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The essence of this article is material culture in folklife studies. The meaning of ‘material culture’ seems clear. According to archaeologist James Deetz, it included that sector of our physical environment that we modify through culturally determined behavior. Material culture reveals human intrusion into the environment. It is the way we imagine', he continues, ‘a distinction between nature and culture, and then rebuild nature to our desire, shaping, reshaping, and arranging things during life’. This article argues that the anthropological study of folklife has had a long series of connections with, and influences upon, the investigation of material culture. Folklife has brought to the analysis of landscapes, archaeology, and vernacular objects an integrative methodology. This article discusses the key features of the folklife studies movement, including the ways it differed from ‘folklore’. The Pennsylvania folklife society is given much emphasis. The gradual shift from folklore to folklorism is explained in details followed by poetics of commodities.

Keywords: material culture; folklore studies; folklife; interactive methodology; folklorism; poetics; commodities

Article.  10894 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; History and Theory of Archaeology

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