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date: 25 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter develops and illustrates the concept of afterlife artefact, an important domain of modern material culture. A human that died or an artefact that lost functions or its integrity may have an afterlife. During the afterlife the original entity lives on in memories created and perpetuated by afterlife artefacts that represent, mimic, commemorate, allude to, or incorporate part of the original entity. The Great Eastern, an English steamship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was broken up in 1888. The ship has a rich afterlife, represented in many kinds of artefacts ranging from mouse pads to refrigerator magnets. A brief history is given of the Great Eastern’s interesting life, and its afterlife is illustrated by discussions of trading cards and postage stamps; both kinds are targeted at hobbyist collectors. The belief that postage stamps uniquely embody political ideology is debunked.

Keywords: modern material culture, afterlife artefact, Great Eastern, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, trading cards, postage stamps, hobbyist collectors, political ideology

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