The Center for Material Culture Studies at the University of Delaware welcomes you to the 16th Material Culture Symposium for Emerging Scholars, “Animaterialities: The Material Culture of Animals (including Humans).” The symposium will be held via Zoom on Saturday, April 24, 2021. 

Six years after the Audubon Society’s startling Birds and Climate Change Report, we continue to learn about the price that non-human animals pay for human actions, including extinction, loss of habitat, and poisoned food sources. More than ever, the present moment begs critical questions about the intersections between the material world and the (fellow) animals with whom we share it. The term “animaterialities” acknowledges the constant presence of other-than-human animals as physical bodies entangled in various anthropogenic systems, whether political, economic, or cultural. The symposium’s organizers and speakers consider animals not as passive forms of matter for human use, but rather as active beings capable of resilience in the face of humans’ material domination and exploitation. 

From beetle wings and nautilus shells to automobiles and animal intelligence, nine emerging scholars will speak to themes of Performance, Afterlives, and Circulation during the day-long symposium. A keynote address on Speculative Taxidermy by Dr. Giovanni Aloi (Art Institute of Chicago) will examine the possibility of more ethically, politically, and ecologically sustainable futures through the works of contemporary artists Nandipha Mntambo and Cole Swanson. Together these scholars will foster critical interdisciplinary conversations surrounding animality, species, agency, objectivity, and subjectivity within material cultures studies.

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