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Reading Clay: The Temporal and Transformative Potential of Clay in Contemporary Scientific Practice

Bryant, Lia; Jamie, Kimberly; Sharples, Gary

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Authors

Lia Bryant



Abstract

Clay has a long history in the global south and has been extensively studied by ‘Western’ social scientists particularly anthropologists and archeologists in relation to histories of earlier civilisations and cultural practices. Clay in relation to contemporary ‘science’ has received less attention in social science despite the emergence of the sub-discipline of ‘clay science’ and its increasing focus on clay to transform wide ranging aspects of social life. In this paper we work towards an exploration of clay in science. We begin with the question of ‘what is clay?’ from the perspective of a multidisciplinary group of scientists, whilst being alert to culturally located and past knowledges of clay that shape current scientific knowledges and practices. Drawing on interviews with six clay scientists we explore the ontological and epistemological process for scientists in ‘reading’ clay to reveal how clay is ‘classified’, ‘worked upon’ and ‘partnered’. Our findings suggest that clay comes into being for scientists by being read as an informational and temporal medium and agentic matter with transformative promise to remedy specific threats to human and environmental health.

Citation

Bryant, L., Jamie, K., & Sharples, G. (2023). Reading Clay: The Temporal and Transformative Potential of Clay in Contemporary Scientific Practice. Journal of Material Culture, 28(1), 87-105. https://doi.org/10.1177/13591835221074159

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 20, 2021
Online Publication Date Jan 27, 2022
Publication Date 2023-03
Deposit Date Jan 5, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jan 5, 2022
Journal Journal of Material Culture
Print ISSN 1359-1835
Electronic ISSN 1460-3586
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 28
Issue 1
Pages 87-105
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/13591835221074159

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Accepted Journal Article (245 Kb)
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Copyright Statement
This contribution has been accepted for publication in Journal of Material Culture.






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