ANT 384M • Material Culture in Colonial Latin America
9:00 AM-12:00 PM
In this course we will focus on domestic material culture in colonial Latin America by drawing from two main bodies of literature: recent theoretical literature on materiality and material biographies, and archaeological, historical, and art historical literature on material culture in colonial Latin America. We will begin the semester with an overview of scholarship that rejects the idea that material culture is a mere expression of social identities and boundaries, and examines the varied roles that domestic material culture can have in social, political, and economic life. This literature emphasizes material biographies, the varied interpretations involved in production, consumption, and discard of different kinds of objects, the changing value (and the different kinds of value) that objects have, and the social and political activities that are mediated by material culture. We will then examine the literature on colonial Latin America to understand current interpretations of the role of material culture in Spanish and Portuguese colonialism, and the theoretical and empirical basis for those interpretations. Students will then figure out strategies for bringing to life new interpretations of different categories of material culture in colonial Latin America.