In attending to surfaces, as they wrap, layer and grow within sentient bodies, material formations and cosmological states, this volume presents a series of ten anthropological studies stretching across five continents and in observation of earthly practices of making, knowing, living and dying.

Through theoretically reflecting on time spent with Aymara and Mapuche Andean cultures; the Malagasy people of Madagascar; craftspeople and designers across Europe and Oceania; amongst the architectures of Australia and South Korea and within the folds of books, screens, landscape and the sea, the anthropologists in this volume communicate diverse ways of considering, working with and knowing surfaces. Together, these writings advance a knowledge of the world which resists any definitive settlement of existential categories and rather seeks to know the world in its emergence and transformation, as entities grow, cohere, shift, dissolve, decay and are reborn through the contact and exchange of surfaces, persisting with varying time, power and effect.

The book principally invites readers from anthropology, the creative arts and environmental studies, but also across the wider humanities and social sciences as well as those in neighbouring scientific fields of archaeology, biology, geography, geoscience, material science, neurology and psychology interested in the intersections of mind, body, materials and world.

chapter 1|13 pages


Turning to surfaces

chapter 2|15 pages

On opening the book of surfaces

chapter 4|16 pages

In light and shadow

Surfaces and polarities in rituals of second burial in Central East Madagascar

chapter 5|18 pages

Re-animating skin

Probing the surface in taxidermic practice

chapter 6|17 pages

The temporality of surfaces

chapter 7|19 pages

Threshold as social surface

chapter 9|13 pages

On the substance of surfaces

Situating materials and design in Melanesian environments

chapter 11|18 pages

A life surficial

Design and beyond

chapter 12|6 pages