Workshop on material culture and the history of knowledge

9 November 2022, 13.00-16.00 at LUX:C215

Are you a student or a researcher interested in investigating how materiality has shaped human practices of knowing and producing knowledge in the past? This workshop explores how the methodologies developed in the study of the material culture can enrich scholarship in the history of knowledge.

Historical scholarship on knowledge can rely on a variety of different types of primary sources. These range from textual sources such as correspondence, journals, books, newspapers, periodicals to visual sources including maps, illustrations, and photographs to different types of things, artefacts, and objects. In this workshop we will consider the materiality of the sources that we use and examine how we can engage with the sources as things of the past that people interacted and mobilized knowledge with. To do so, the workshop seeks to foster a conversation with the methodologies developed in the study of material culture that emphasize the need to follow “things” to uncover the epistemological and ontological work that they have done in the past.

As a starting point for discussion, the workshop utilises the following text:

Giorgio Riello: “Things that shape history Material culture and historical narratives” in 
Karen Harvey. History and Material Culture: A Student’s Guide to Approaching Alternative Sources. Second edition. Routledge, 2017, 27-50.

In addition, workshop participants are asked to prepare short introductions stemming from their own research with a specific focus on how they have or could approach materiality in the study of the history of knowledge.

Anyone interested in the workshop topic is welcome to join the workshop and contribute to the discussion. If you wish to attend, please send an email to Johanna Skurnik ( by Monday 7 November 2022 to gain access to the reading material.

About the organizer:

The workshop is organized by postdoctoral researcher Johanna Skurnik who is visiting LUCK in October-November from the University of Helsinki. Skurnik specializes in the history of geographical knowledge, map history and colonial history. Her current research project examines the production and mobilities of geographical knowledge in Finnish society, c. 1850-1930 (funded by the Academy of Finland 2020-2023).

Image: Plan of the City of Helsinki in the early 1800s,

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