The Semiotics Workshop is pleased to announce this year’s theme and the Autumn 2014 schedule:

Materiality and Mediation

Moving beyond a construal of materiality as that which contrasts with the “ideational” or the “symbolic”, this year we seek papers that interrogate the concept of materiality. We are interested in how materiality comes to be actualized and through what reflexive processes something comes to be understood as material or immaterial. That is to say, how is (im)materiality mediated? These questions presuppose that materiality is not an inherent property, but rather precipitates over time.

Given materiality is not an inherent property, we seek papers addressing what counts as (im)material for different social groups. At stake is how qualia are embodied, socio-culturally organized, and shared, and, following that, how qualia are made to be similar or different through their materializations. Crucial here are the metrics, standards, and other mediating semiotic technologies of different regimes of practice and expertise. How are these technologies employed by the groups we study, but also within academia?

Finally, we are interested in not only the construal of materiality, but also the movement from one kind of materiality to another. This question includes, but is not limited to, how practices of representation – like archiving, documentation, or even writing – negotiate issues of materiality.



October 9: “Cadastral Mapping, Semiotic Ideology, and the Recalcitrant Human Landscape:  Dili, Timor-Leste”

Gabriel Tusinski

PhD Candidate, Anthropology

Univ. of Chicago

Discussant: Jack Mullee


October 23: “The Limber Corpse: The Semeiotic Agency of the Dead”

Zoe Crossland

Associate Professor, Anthropology

Columbia University

Discussant: Menna Khalil

(Joint meeting with the Interdisciplinary Archaeology Workshop)


October 30: “Luck as quality and substance in northern Peru”

Marieka Sax

PhD, Anthropology

Carleton University

Discussant: Duff Morton

(Joint meeting with the Workshop on Latin America and the Caribbean)


November 13: “The Semiotics of Spirits and Spanish: Code-Switching in Cosmological Discourses as Epistemological Strategy amongst the Inuya River Amawaka”

Erik Levin

PhD Candidate, Anthropology and Linguistics

Univ. of Chicago

Discussant: Hilary McMahan


November 20: “Temporalities of Care in Neoliberal Jordan”

Yazan Doughan

PhD Candidate, Anthropology

Univ. of Chicago

Discussant: Zachary Sheldon