The anatomy of houses: Materialities of being at home
This introductory essay proposes a reflection that discusses, reframes, and presents the thematic section hosted in this volume, that investigates houses at the intersection between recent trends in the anthropology of the house, the study of material culture, and the investigation of contemporary socio-cultural transformations. In the first paragraph, we contextualize the growing contemporary interest in houses. In the second, following Carsten, we sustain the idea that houses themselves should be placed at the heart of a research agenda, we present the approach proposed in this thematic section, we clarify what are houses and what distinguishes them in relation to homes and households and how, in the history of anthropology, these “objects” have been investigated. In the third paragraph, reviewing the main approaches to the theme, we delve into the notion of société à maisons elaborated by Lévi-Strauss. The fourth paragraph places the concreteness of houses back at the centre of the analysis, where normative and material forms are mediated, reproduced, and even contested or negotiated. In the last, we present the three articles hosted in this thematic section – and the afterword discussing them – that explore how houses and their materiality modify the world and deal with its transformations.
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