My current understanding of material culture and values

In preparation for the upcoming field trip to Morocco I have been thinking about how we define material culture and about how contrasting peoples values can be from all different areas around the world. In the UK, I would say that society has become hugely driven by material goods, consumption, fashion and popularity. Material culture here isn’t just about traditional architecture or upholstery, hand-made goods and fabrics, but clothing, jewellery, makeup, accessories and cars – mass produced and lacking in individuality. From experience, (without research or having visited Morocco), I would say that our culture in the UK is less focused on producing material goods for buyers, on traditional art and design, fabric, or architecture, but about popularity of these objects – of how people perceive us because of them. In countries like Morocco or other foreign, extremely contrasting cultures to here, there seems to be a big focus on traditional patterns or handmade goods, on religion and the objects created linked to this; on rituals, colour and pattern. Here, in our modern, first world country I feel we have been swept up in the consumption of objects that aren’t of much significance to our cultures or roots, religion or upbringing, but as a result in the rise in consumer consumption and objects. I’m interested in learning about the craftsmanship and art of Marrakesh and to learn about their values and traditions that we maybe lack in our modern society. I’m hoping I will come back and view my surroundings differently in terms of materialism and be able to analyse the type of culture I live in, to compare to what I discovered in Morocco. I feel we tend to focus on buying objects and using them to create identity, whereas in foreign, maybe less privileged cultures, people seem to be driven to create and make – to sell and enrich others lives with hand made objects or art. This is a big part of what I want to look into, photographing the work put into making or selling material goods in the streets of Marrakesh and portraits of the people doing this.

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