Readers may be interested in this CFP by Sunway University in Malaysia aimed at art history, archaeology, anthropology and other related disciplines. Deadline is 20 April 2021.
Material culture has most often been examined from a Western perspective in relation to the shift from mercantilism to the market economy and the expansion of capitalism, especially changes in (mass)production and consumption, forms of consumerism and waste, and the impact of the Industrial Revolution on European and American societies. It has also been examined from the standpoint of trade, as Asian luxury goods were increasingly imported into Europe from the early modern period onwards. Innovative techniques were adapted, such as lacquer (French Martin varnish imitating Far Eastern lacquer), glassware (Japanese Kakiemon products imitated by the Dutch), as well as Oriental motifs.  They shaped new tastes and led to the development of new commodity cultures. 
These exotic worlds of commodities gradually attracted attention and were translated into material desires. They became visible through the new profusion of knick-knacks and foreign objects such as decorative porcelain in houses, and through the creation of fashion trends such as Chinoiseries in the 18th century or Japonisme later in the 19th century. Asian objects increasingly populated private spaces and became an integral part of the daily life of Westerners, to the point of being represented in paintings: accessories such as fans or hairpins, clothing such as kimonos, wallpapers, and furniture can be traced for example in portraits. These imported goods were most often dissociated from their culture of origin and often westernized, as can be seen in Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s portrait of Mrs Henriot, her kimono being worn in European fashion.  However, these goods were symbols of specific cultural identities and were embedded in the daily life of societies,  sometimes for a very long time, before being essentialized and becoming stereotypes in the eyes of Westerners — not to say ‘culturally appropriated’ as often claimed nowadays.
In recent years, historians have moved away from the Marxist or capitalist approach, to refocus on the cultural relationship between beings and things, and to rethink the various contexts other than purely economic ones, in which objects are signifiers (Thing theory).  As Bill Brown puts it, objects enable historians to “make contact with the “real” […] in accounts of everyday life and material habitus”. Moreover, according to David Kingery, objects reflect “truest representations” of values and meanings in societies. It seems important, therefore, to put “things” back into context — especially in their own life cycle in order to find the habits which they were associated with in the past — and to decipher the authentic cultural signs and symbols that have been forgotten or kept alive. The study by Craig Clunas Superfluous Things: Material Culture and Social Status in Early Modern China, symbolizes the effort to reconsider objects within their original context and the social and cultural messages they convey. In recent years Anne Gerritsen and Dorothy Ko have also considerably renewed the approach to Asian material culture, especially the social life of objects. The conference explores objects as forms of cultural heritage, paying attention to their use and importance, as well as to the different values and emotions that have been attached to them through the ages.
Things constitute a memory of identities through which mentalités can be assessed as they are reflected in the “subject-object relation”. Indeed, according to Brown, they are more than objects as they “exceed their mere materialisation” and have a presence. Things have a cultural layer; more exactly they are “culturalised, humanised, and can therefore be anthropomorphised”, even “personified and made into narrative characters”. As such, they may be seen as processes of enculturation: Humans interact with them (or choose not), and integrate them in their social existence, often as markers of status and class. Things also reveal personal taste and material desires.
People can share things, pass them onto younger generations. They can project feelings on things and can be filled with sensations by these ones. They can sell those which no longer ‘talk’ to them, even destroy them or throw them away. Inanimate things are catalysts of life and pollinate lives. Thus, how did things in Asia and Southeast Asia affect daily lives and what were the relationships of their owners with specific goods, tools, or products? How was material culture perceived in the past in the East, and how in the present day, “vintage” objects survive in a globalized world that emphasizes consumerism?
This conference aims to provide a better understanding of past and present societies through objects that are no longer used or whose “life” is endangered by new modern lifestyles. We also aim to reconstruct the vision and perception of time through the use of objects, that is: routines; the idea of rapid or progressive obsolescence; phenomena such as “ageing” or travelling things; the different life cycles from the making to the “death” of objects (manufacturing, use/reuse, meaning in society, destruction etc.); the crystallisation and therefore immortalisation of some objects in the memory of some individuals through emotions and feelings.