Object Mobilities

Garden Gathering (detail), from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Open Access)


Date & time

Mon 07 Nov 2022, 9am – Wed 09 Nov 2022, 5pm


Location TBC

The Humanities Research Centre, the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University, the Humanities Council, Princeton University, the University Center for Human Values, Princeton University and the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, Australian Catholic University, presents Object Mobilities.

Object Mobilities

Portable objects have long been studied by anthropologists, archaeologists, art historians, and indeed anyone whose work falls within the remit of material culture studies.

This workshop will build upon the foundational theories of mobile objects and material culture studies including those of Alfred Gell, who argued for the ‘agency’ of objects in cultural exchange, and Nicholas Thomas, whose theory of ‘entangled objects’ reminds us of the complicated nature of the cultural belonging of things as they move from hand-to-hand.

Drawing on the ANU Humanities Research Centre’s 2022 theme—Mobilitieswe invite participants to look at the ways in which mobile objects enact cultural relations and how their travels reshape their interpretation across place and time.

Presentations are structured to focus on one paradigmatic object in relation to one or more of the following themes:

  • Object mobilities and geography - how objects change in different geographic contexts
  • Object mobilities and temporality - How do objects change meaning over time, or how is their meaning preserved over time despite the pull of mobility?
  • How should we write the histories of mobile objects?
  • What are the benefits and what are the limits of attending to the mobilities of objects?
  • The reinterpretation of art as non-art (or vice versa) in different contexts.
  • Objects that are mobile in interpretation - an object that is in the same geography but has a different cultural, commercial, or affective significance for different groups.

The conference will be held in person on the lands of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples, with venue to be confirmed, from November 7-9, 2022.

Updated:  2 November 2022/Responsible Officer:  Head, Centre/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications