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Peter Graham presents "Does Material Engagement Theory have anything to offer Sustainability studies?"

Thursday, November 16, 2017
2:30 PM – 4:00 PM
Biosciences Complex
Room: 1120
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Material Engagement Theory (MET) was developed by cognitive archaeologists working with only material artefacts to try and decipher what those artefacts implied about an ancient and long defunct culture. Most often those societies left no written records that could tell us anything about what those ancient people thought or felt or why they acted the way they did. MET represents an attempt to link the material world to sociocultural development as well as the emergence, development, and maintenance of socioeconomic institutions that ultimately come to define a people. What would happen if we applied the tool of MET to our own contemporary material culture? Can we then learn anything new about our own culture? Can we learn anything new about sustainability?

This seminar will explain what MET is, how it is used, and how it might be applied in environmental studies research. The presenter, Peter Graham, will argue that MET provides an entry point to get at the tacit knowledge and the implicit learning that comes from simply growing up and being in a cultural landscape and actively engaging with the materiality of that landscape. The question pertinent to sustainability that MET raises is whether sustainability could possibly be achieved without a radical shift in the ways we engage with the material world.

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