Thursday, July 30, 2015

Clothed with Strength: Meaningful Material Practices in the Sport of CrossFit

Alexander D. Ornella explores the sport of CrossFit as meaningful material practice via the use and display of t-shirts. He provides us with a unique case study and encourages us to look at the domain of sport with new eyes, one where materials, artefacts and practices are simultaneously part of the mundane world but also transcend the ordinary and manifest transformative values.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Religion, Materiality and Machines in Faouzi Bensaïdi’s Death for Sale

Rebecca Moody interprets Bensaïdi’s 2011 film, Death for Sale, using a variety of perspectives; from the ways that religion influences the materialization of political and economic structures—especially in relation to state institutions—to the link between broken (or breaking) institutions and broken (or breaking) lives, as informed by Deleuze and Guattari, to the struggles of Muslim women in rapidly changing societies. The film uses subtle visual techniques and minimal dialogue to convey the conflicts and fragmentation that commence when two (or more) starkly different ways of life are forced into an uneasy alliance too quickly.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Let's Be Noah: Toys as Material Religion

Stefanie Knauss considers the importance of toys in shaping childrens' embodied conceptions of cultural practices, particularly the significance of religious toys in conveying some of the important characters, ideas, and values of a tradition. She argues that the materiality of toys fosters particular enactments of religious stories but that such exercises are underdetermined; the toys must be a focus of pedagogy for them to take on the particular meanings of a tradition, otherwise, they may simply exist as secular playthings. In short, religious toys present opportunities for teaching about a particular tradition, but are not clearly indicative of such approaches in and of themselves. Knauss sees religious toys as a promising unit of analysis for investigating meaning-making and the interplay of self-determination and group influence in early identity formation.