The Materiality of Community
Community does not disappear but become liberated, as Barry Wellman pointed out, in the contemporary world. In other words, today’s community researchers constantly face two fundamental challenges: what is community? How does community work. Borrowing insights from the “ontological turn” in recent discussion of social theory, this session aims to explore the role of material objects in the making of communal lives and imaginations, and to rethink the concept of community ontologically by taking materiality into consideration. We would like to ask: how is the search for root, identity, solidarity and belongingness possible in the material world?
In the past ten years, ontological turn (or new materialisms) has moved firmly into the mainstream social-scientific lexicon across various disciplines. Inspired by this growing scholarship, we suggest that researchers should no longer treat community as local social groups or networks merely comprised of human subjects. Rather, community can be understood as ongoing processes of composition through the associations and interactions between different human and non-human beings, such as animals, artifacts, built environment, food, objects, plants, etc.
From this perspective, this session seeks inter-disciplinary contributions that address the ways in which material objects function in the making of community and mediate social interactions and emotions. We welcome papers that make contributions to the analysis of community compositions and their entanglements with various forms of materiality.