Materials for Change

The research team will study the dynamics of historical and contemporary
processes of change, focusing on The Material in its various manifestations as a unifying
agent that mediates the economic, social, cultural and religious in periods of massive and
rapid change. Concomitantly, the team will emphasize the role of the material ‐ be it tools,
objects, artifacts and food ‐ as an active agent of change in human history and in
contemporary society in different regions of the world. Emphasis on the duality of the
material ‐ as reflecting social and political processes and as an active force shaping such
processes ‐ will enhance a deeper understanding of how historical and contemporary
courses of change emerge, and how they are negotiated, challenged and reworked. A
major strength of the proposed research team is in its synergy of disciplines, theories and
methodologies in the social sciences and humanities. Team members study processes of
change in various regions and historical contexts stretching over a wide chronological axis.
Two of the team members are archeologists who study the dramatic shift from nomadic
hunting and gathering to sedentary agriculture in different part of the world, mainly the
Levant and Northeast China. A third member studies art history as a venue for
understanding the cultural and social history of the Middle East from the Hellenistic period
and until the Umayyad era. The forth members is a cultural anthropologist that conducts
ethnographic research in Vietnam and in Israel and studies the interface of food and culture.
Team members share an interest in processes of change and in the emphasis they place on
the material as an active agent in such processes. The diverse thematic and methodological
scopes of the team members will enhance mutual enrichment and facilitate fresh
approaches to the study of change in an interdisciplinary setting combining social sciences
and humanities.