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    The study of cultural artefacts in archaeology and anthropology. Addresses practical problems of classification and laboratory analysis, as well as the interpretation of material symbolism, meaning and agency.

    Material culture studies aims to investigate the relationship between humans and the material objects they make and use. This paper looks at a range of archaeological approaches to the study of artefacts, particularly those relevant to research in New Zealand and the tropical Pacific. The course takes a hands-on approach and is approximately equally divided between formal lectures and practical laboratories. In lectures we draw heavily on international case studies, and discuss theoretical perspectives on the description and classification of artefacts, and interpretation of function, style and cultural meanings. The practical sessions provide instruction on analytical techniques and involve experimental class projects.

    About this paper

    Paper title Material Culture Studies
    Subject Anthropology
    EFTS 0.1667
    Points 20 points
    Teaching period Full Year (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $1,448.79
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    72 300-level ANTH or ARCH points
    ARCH 402
    Limited to
    BA(Hons), PGDipArts, MA(Coursework), MArchP

    Associate Professor Tim Thomas

    Teaching staff

    Co-ordinator: Associate Professor Tim Thomas
    Contributing Lecturers: Dr Charles Radclyffe

    Paper Structure
    Lectures and labs
    Teaching Arrangements
    One 2-hour lecture/seminar and one 2-hour laboratory workshop per week.
    Most required reading is from journal articles and book chapters available electronically through the library.
    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Scholarship, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    Students who successfully complete this paper will:

    • Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of material culture studies, including how to undertake analysis of a variety of different materials and from a range of different theoretical frameworks/perspectives
    • Be able to complete an individual material culture project and present a professional report


    Full Year

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    A1 Wednesday 15:00-16:50 9-13, 15-22, 29-35


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    A1 Thursday 14:00-15:50 9-13, 15-16, 18-22, 29-31, 33-34
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