From fashion and clothing, food, interiors and housing, to built environments and transportation, ‘just-in-time’ production systems have dramatically made possible new patterns and modes of living in modern daily life, structuring our dependencies towards convenience, immediacy, fast and the ‘new.’ Newness, as Marshall Berman defined it, is understood as an inseparable feature of modernity, yet we are still grappling to understand how design objects structure our consumption behavior and produce new needs and desires that condition everyday life. Unlike objects that are made to last, ‘ephemera’ is made to be trendy, cheap, timely, and disposable. Rather than understanding it's fast nature through supply chains, new distribution channels and business models, this class provides an anthropological approach to ‘ephemera’ – theorizing notions of need and desire, waste and value, and permanence and decay within contemporary material worlds. From fast-fashion (Forever 21, H&M, Zara), fast-furniture (IKEA), and fast-technologies (Apple, mobile phone technologies), to ‘dollar stores’ and Wal-Mart, what are the conditions that make possible the design and manufacturing of these ephemeral everyday goods? How do these things inform and arrange the way we live? What permanent impact does it have on labor and the environment? Among other things, we will discuss fast-fashion, secondhand clothing industries, designer jeans, underwear and socks, shipping containers, parking lots, cell phones, and the archaeology of American middle class homes, to critically narrate the rise of new design cultures, the emergence of new forms of cultural labor, the increase in popular uprisings, and contentious debates surrounding ‘globalization’ and ‘neo-liberalism.’
Open to all university graduate degree students
Open to Graduate students.