Living in a material world: why 'things' matter

18 Oct 2017

Things structure our lives. They enrich us, embellish us and express our hopes and fears. Here, to introduce a month-long focus on research on material culture, four academics from different disciplines explain why understanding how we interact with our material world can reveal unparalleled insights into what it is to be human.

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Thinkin' about the code

Are we being sold online?

27 Oct 2012

A panel discussion for the Festival of Ideas examines whether social media giants are profiting from our willingness to share the most intimate details of our lives online, and whether we should be worried by this compromise to our privacy.

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Casey Brienza

Men of wonder: gender and American superhero comics

01 Nov 2011

Boys and action comics go together like Batman and Robin – but how are girls represented in comics? Sociologist, Casey Brienza, investigates the male world of the action comic and looks at the depictions of female characters.

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Katy Barrett

Things are getting complicated

24 Oct 2011

In the recent riots looters made off with some of the items that have come to symbolise our materialistic society - trainers, track suits and flat screen televisions. Katy Barrett, who is doing a PhD in the Department of the History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge and the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, is co-convening a series of seminars which will look at the powerful role that possessions play in society, past and present.

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Stephen Leonard in Greenland.

Death by monoculture

02 Sep 2011

Having just returned from a year spent documenting the language and culture of the remote Inughuit community of north-western Greenland, Dr Stephen Leonard describes how he witnessed first-hand the manner in which globalisation and consumerism are conspiring to destroy centuries-old cultures and traditions.

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Marriage inventory, Württemberg, 1682

300 years of list-making

20 May 2011

Personal inventories spanning three centuries are helping researchers unlock the mysteries of how economies edge towards growth and prosperity.

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