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date: 02 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Material culture theorists have had limited success in integrating the material qualities of objects into social and historical interpretations. Following Ingold, this chapter argues that material qualities have to be understood as experientially mediated affordances for human action. One of the most salient material qualities of an object is its inherent temporality—how the processes it forms unfold in time. The temporal qualities of materials demonstrably structure how people understand and use them in both obvious and subtle ways. Building upon this, I argue that much of what people do when they work with materials is to cope with their temporality to align them with human needs and the rhythms of social life. The chapter finishes by pointing out some important implications of the materiality of time for historical analysis.

Keywords: materiality, time, material qualities, scheduling, storage

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