students walking

Art and New Materialisms

Art and New Materialisms

This cluster examines artistic forms of cultural and political creativity, beauty, and imagination. 


New materialism asks about the life of objects and other matter, and encompasses cultural anthropology, archaeology, and other interdisciplinary areas of inquiry. Research areas include cultural and artistic expressions, ranging from pottery to images to music.


Basit Iqbal

Assistant Professor 

CNH 530 


Tel: (905) 525-9140, ext. 24283


I approach the fields of aesthetics and the imagination through questions of genre and poetics (the seeking of form at discursive thresholds). In my ethnographic fieldwork with Syrian refugees and aid workers in Jordan and Canada, I attend to select material-artistic practices (poetry, calligraphy, images). A related set of interests pursues the trope of “witness” across disciplines, from humanitarian testimony to eschatological reckoning. My teaching increasingly includes multiple media, which returns me to methodological questions of translation, expression, and critique. 

Petra Rethmann

Professor | Director/Graduate Advisor of IGHC 

L.R. Wilson Hall, Room 2020 


Tel: (905) 525-9140, ext. 26259 


Petra Rethmann’s interests lie at the intersection of cultural anthropology, politics, history, philosophy, and art. In drawing on a number of ethnographic/experimental methodologies and theoretical approaches, she explores – for example – the ways in which experiences of historical grievances and injuries shape political imaginations. Through SSHRC-funded research she concretely examines this issue through the global entanglements of Germany, Russia, and Kazakhstan. In regards to her interests in philosophy and art, Petra is very interested in understanding how the former both act in and expand our understanding of the world. In this regard, she is currently working on two book-length projects, asking about art as a form of becoming and as a putative source of political and economic redemption in especially post-industrial societies.


Petra is also deeply invested in questions of writing. She teaches seminars and classes on the interconnection between politics, activism, futurity, and hope; history and memory; and ethnographic and other forms of writing, Petra has provided logistic and research support for a number of politically progressive movements and NGOs, and considers ethics and commitment as integral to the research process and to working towards a better world.

Andy Roddick

Andy Roddick

Associate Professor / Graduate Chair

Chester New Hall, Room 509


Tel: (905) 525-9140, ext. 23913



Andy Roddick’s work into craft production in both the ancient and contemporary world has explored the power of mundane objects to produce and negotiate relationships. He focuses on both the learning networks involved in pottery production and the social lives of the materials involved. His archaeological and ethnographic research explores the vibrant matter used to produce pottery (clay, sediments) and the residues of their production (ash mounds) are part of a complex networks in the highlands of Bolivia.

Yana Stainova

Assistant Professor 

Chester New Hall (CNH), room 511 


Tel: (905) 525-9140, ext. 26296


My scholarship explores the significance of art, beauty, and creativity for people whose lives are marked by violence. I study artistic creation through a methodology that is both sensitive to the phenomenological experience of art and grounded in a critical understanding of the topographies of power inscribed and reproduced in urban space. My first book Sonorous Worlds: Musical Enchantment in Venezuela explores how young people coming of age in the urban barrios of Caracas use music and stories to push back against the forces of everyday violence, ethno-racial discrimination, and state repression. Sonorous Worlds contributes an ethnographically grounded perspective to scholarship on new materialisms by exploring musicians’ enchantment with the materiality of music and its potential to generate dreams of individual and collective futures. My interest in the concept of enchantment inspires what I call a “method of enchantment” — an affirmative counterpoint to critical modes of scholarship.

Affiliated Courses

1AA3: Sex, Food and Death

2BB3: Ancient Mesoamerica 

2FO3: Intro to Cultural Anthropology 

2MA3: Media, Art and Anthropology 

2PA3: Intro to Anthropological Archaeology 

2PC3: Aliens, Curses, and Nazis 

2RP3: Religion and Power in the Past

3CAC: Ceramic Analysis 

3EM3: Current Debates in Eastern Mediterranean Prehistory 

3LA3: Lithics Analysis 

3FFF3: Key Debates in Andean Archaeology

4AA3: Materiality 

4EE3: Archaeology In (And Of) the Present 

4WO3: Explorations in Experimental Anthropology

702: Contemporary Problems 

722: Ethnographic Theory and Research Methods 

786: Global Futures 

787: Object Worlds

Research Programs

Research Clusters

While the department covers four main Research Programs (sub-fields) in Anthropology, we also integrate these Research Programs in six key areas of expertise and investigation: Art and New Materialisms; Ecologies, Resilience, and Change; Embodiment, Health, and Wellbeing; Foodways, Diet, and Nutrition; Heritage, History, and Memory; and Migrations, Displacements, and Violence. 


Ecologies, Resilience, and Change 

Embodiment, Health, and Wellbeing 

Foodways, Diet, and Nutrition 

Heritage, History, and Memory 

Migrations, Displacements, and Violence