How it Works

Each of the objects in the Object Ethnography Project has been donated by an ordinary person. Each object has a story. Some discuss the history of the object, why it has meaning to the donor, or why the donor chose to part with their object. Anyone can donate an object.

All these objects are available for exchange. You, or anyone else, can trade for any object by offering a new story about it. What attracts you to the object? What will you do with it? How will the object spend its time in your possession?
Once a story has been offered for exchange, the object will be mailed to its new owner. The Object Ethnographers will contact new owners a few months after the exchange to see how things are getting on. Has the object met expectations? Has it been given away (in which case we will follow up with the new owner)?  A new story will be recorded.

The final online exhibition will consist of a photograph of each object and its three stories.

These objects and their stories will become the basis of a research project to see how narrative influence worth, economies, and circulation. Some of this research will be posted here over the course of the summer of 2012. We welcome any classes, researchers or custodians to the project. See the participation tab for more information.

Comments

  1. Dale S. Brown says:

    Hi!

    I wanted to let you know a story about an object I did not donate- because I think it’s a good story. In 1973, Pope John Paul VI blessed some crosses when my Dad was on an official government visit. We are athiests in my family. He gave them to me. I am a bit more spiritual than my family, so I hung on to them. I had hopes that I would run into someone who would find them meaningful.

    About a year ago, I started looking for homes for many of the objects that I owned. I have always practiced “Stewardship of Objects,” making sure that the things that I own are passed on in a responsible manner. So I tried to find a home for the crosses.

    I used Free Cycle- and was able to distribute 4 crosses to people who found them meaningful. But it was very hard to make the connection between me and the person who wanted them, because I felt they were sacred objects and didn’t want to leave them hanging on my apartment door. So I gave the rest of them to Our Lady of Victory Church in our neighborhood. Janet, the secretary was delighted and grateful and I believed they were finally where they belonged.

    Then two more turned up. I was on the web and found your project and thought I might donate the crosses. I wrote the story- and was about to send them on. Then I remembered that they were sacred – and changed my mind. I didn’t really know if you handled religious objects- I just thought they might be better off in Our Lady of Victory.

    But your project excites me. I want to participate and am looking for an object to donate. I probably have a good object that comes with a good story. But I wanted to share this with those of you who are working on the project– I think it is important to realize your power and influence, even though I didn’t donate the crosses, your project made their story even better.

    Dale S. Brown

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