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People, Places and Possessions


Edited By Antony Buxton, Linda Hulin and Jane Anderson

Central to human life and experience, habitation forms a context for enquiry within many disciplines. This collection brings together perspectives on human habitation in the fields of anthropology, archaeology, social history, material culture, literature, art and design, and architecture. Significant shared themes are the physical and social structuring of space, practice and agency, consumption and gender, and permanence and impermanence. Topics range from archaeological artefacts to architectural concepts, from Romano-British consumption to the 1950s Playboy apartment, from historical elite habitation to present-day homelessness, from dwelling «on the move» to the crisis of household dissolution, and from interior design to installation art. Not only is this volume a rich resource of varied aspects and contexts of habitation, it also provides compelling examples of the potential for interdisciplinary conversations around significant shared themes.


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Introduction (Antony Buxton / Linda Hulin / Jane Anderson)


Antony Buxton, Linda Hulin and Jane Anderson Introduction This volume emerged from a shared sense of limited perspectives. As edi- tors, and as contributors we are all interested in the human condition – arguably universal across place and time – of habitation. But disciplinary parameters being what they are, we became aware of the fact that our own methodologies and contexts could only ever reveal so much of a broad ranging and complex totality. No matter how comprehensive our own enquiries might be, they could only ever hope to be part of a much richer and more revealing narrative. Encountering, often by chance, others whose perspectives could enrich our own, and vice versa, we created a setting for conversations between scholars in different disciplines, sharing the same interest in habitation: The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) seminar series of which the editors of this volume were con- venors, entitled ‘inHabit’ [sic].1 The title for such an enterprise, engaging with such a multifaceted condition – structural and spatial, material, social and ideological – was problematic. The choice of inHabit was chosen as one which hopefully embraced this complexity, with the subtitle ‘People, Places and Possessions’ indicating an emphasis on social and spatial proper- ties. As a totality ‘inHabit’ indicates the spatial process of dwelling in place and structure, but the deliberate capitalisation of ‘Habit’ seeks to empha- sise the root meaning of dwelling (Latin habitare) and possession (Latin habere, to possess or to hold). Habit also forms a connection with, to us,...

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