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The Lives of Things

A conference presented by the Object Cultures Project

April 29th and 30th

25 years after the publication of Arjun Appadurai’s The Social Life of Things (SLOT) this conference seeks to assess the enormous role the volume has played in catalyzing and shaping scholarly interest in things. In both a retrospective and forward-looking spirit, we will explore the ways in which topics such as the circulation of objects, the construction of object “agency,” the transformation of value, and the commodity form have been adopted and adapted from SLOT by a wide variety of scholars. Speakers have been invited to trace a broad and interdisciplinary trajectory from Appadurai’s landmark essay to their own contemporary work on the lives of things.

Keynote address by Arjun Appadurai

April 29th at 4:30

Swift Hall 310

Reception will follow

All conference panels will take place in the Franke Institute for the Humanities, 1100 East 57th Street


Christy Anderson
Christopher Breward
Wendy Chun
Didier Gondola
Jonathan Lamb
Lynn Meskell
Harvey Molotch
Rosalind Morris


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Friday, February 18th 4:00pm

CWAC, room 157

Please join us for a Curatorial Practices panel, the final event in the Object Cultures Project’s three-part series. We have invited a panel of curators to discuss the various methodological approaches, considerations, and challenges that have guided the display of objects and ephemera within a diverse set of institutions: the Art Institute of Chicago, the Loyola University Museum of Art, the Newberry Library, and the Smart Museum here at the University of Chicago. We hope to examine the way in which new attention to object studies intersects with developments within museum practices. The event will consist of three parts: panel presentations, a round table discussion moderated by Chris Dingwall, and a Q&A session open to the audience. A small reception will follow.

For additional information or requests, contact Jen Cohen at

Friday, January 21st 10-12

CWAC Lounge

Contact Jen Cohen at for the password in order to access the readings.

This meeting will be discussion-based, so please come having at least the broad-strokes of the articles in mind. To begin and direct conversation, our planning committee is coming prepared with their own questions, but please feel free to bring your own list of questions or passages for group consideration.

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Save the date! The first of our tri-part series will be on November 3rd. The object our committee has chosen to discuss is chairs, and we will be considering the objects in the original as well as in various representations.

Join us over lunch for a discussion of Chrisitina Kiaer’s book Imagine No Possessions: The Socialist Objects of Russian Constructivism on

October 8, 2010


12 – 2


CWAC 157.

Please RSVP.