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Stuff happens: a material culture approach to textile conservation

Eastop, Dinah (2009) Stuff happens: a material culture approach to textile conservation University of Southampton, School of Humanities / Textile Conservation Centre, Doctoral Thesis , 316pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)


Textile conservation, defined here as the preservation, investigation and
presentation of textiles, is often viewed largely as a technical and
aesthetic problem. This research develops an alternative view by
understanding objects as being subject to both material and social
change. The dynamic aspects of this material and social process is
emphasised as ‘stuff happens’. This research proposes, and provides
evidence for, a material culture approach to textile conservation, and
demonstrates its development and application. An analysis of case studies
shows how the material and the social interact at the point of assessment
and intervention. Examination of the material aspects of textile
conservation reveals that social values influence decision-making. Values
held at the time of conservation are shown to depend on the categories
used. Investigation of these categories demonstrates that any anomalous
quality of the textile undergoing conservation allows for contestation of
social values. As values change over time, analysis of each conservation
assessment and intervention reveals a comparison of values held at
different times viewed retrospectively. The resulting approach is centred
on the interaction between things, persons and language where each
mediates relations of the others. It is argued that this material culture
approach enhances understanding of the dynamic material and social
environment of textile conservation principles and practices.

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Published date: August 2009
Organisations: University of Southampton


Local EPrints ID: 169895
PURE UUID: adc341ac-5b38-4a5c-a52d-f9b901f7c8dd

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Date deposited: 23 Dec 2010 14:36
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 12:18

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Author: Dinah Eastop
Thesis advisor: William Brooks

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