Palace matters

Things in the early modern period practices of European residences (working title)

Project management: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Oy-Marra
Project team member: Dr. Anna Ananieva

The planned research project deals with the thing-related practices of European élites from the late 15th until the early 19th century and asks how the rooms of the residences were constituted in their material and symbolic presence through intentional or spontaneous action by the actors involved with and through things. Particular interest is paid to the material dimensions of social and architectonic spatial dynamics which can be observed in the European palace worlds. As places of intensified social action and a particularly rich thing culture, palaces of the residences of the early modern period are at the centre of the research project. In their function as the seat of the court, they stand out in a special manner for an obviously narrow concentration of political action, as well as the production of art and knowledge. As centres of power and patronage, they fulfil stabilising tasks at different levels and serve, among other things, for a visible spatialisation of social orders and aesthetic standards. Understood as an association of persons, the court is characterised by a conspicuous social as well as spatial mobility. Therefore residences function also as privileged places for transfer processes into which both people and things are always integrated.

The project starts out from such a physical and material embodiment of space-constituting practices. Various active participants – social and material actants (Bruno Latour), individual and collective institutions and actors – are involved in the processes of construction and transformation of the residences’ palace rooms. Dynamics result from the interrelations of these actants and actors that generate, deny or stabilise the spatial arrangements, making them visible and perceptible in material presence. Among other things, a study will also be conducted to what extent in this connection things also play a decisive, active role in their material, symbolic and performative dimension.

Further persons involved: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Jan Kusber, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Matthias Müller, JProf. Dr. Gesa zur Nieden, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Klaus Pietschmann, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Matthias Schnettger