chapter  2
Museum objects: Susan M. Pearce
Pages 3

One problem common to them all, and one which throws up the characteristic cleft between philosophical speculation and the everyday meanings attached to words, revolves around the scope to be attributed to them. Strictly speaking, the lumps of the physical world to which cultural value is ascribed include not merely those discrete lumps capable of being moved from one place to another, which is what we commonly mean when we say ‘thing’ or ‘artefact’, but also the larger physical world of landscape with all the social structure that it carries, the animal and plant species which have been affected by humankind (and most have), the prepared meals which the animals and plants become, and even the manipulation of fl esh and air which produces song and speech. As James Deetz has put it in a famous sentence: ‘Material culture is that segment of man’s physical environment which is purposely shaped by him according to a culturally dictated plan’ (Deetz 1977: 7).