Manchester TAG 2014: Session ‘Cataloguing Magic’

Cataloguing Magic

Cataloguing Magic: The Complex Biographies of Ritual Objects in Museum Contexts

Organisers: Ceri Houlbrook, Natalie Armitage, Chiara Zuanni (University of Manchester)

Following the success of ‘The Materiality of Magic’ session at Liverpool TAG 2012, this second session aims to further establish ‘magic’ as a term and subject on the archaeological agenda. Despite its simple definition in the Oxford English Dictionary, as ‘the power of apparently influencing events by using mysterious or supernatural forces’, ‘magic’ is a term viewed by many scholars with wariness or distrust, having been ascribed certain pejorative or sensationalist connotations. These connotations have greatly influenced our perceptions and uses of it. This factor will therefore be considered in specific relation to museum contexts; how has the word ‘magic’ been used by museums and the heritage industry? Has it been avoided? Has it been exploited? However, as well as offering an exploration of the sensationalist undertones of…

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