Kaspar Wilder

Date of Award


First Advisor

Chris Coggins

Second Advisor

Kathryn Boswell


Using techniques from institutional mapping, photovoice, and oral history, this piece explores the unexpected consciousness of material objects and consumer goods in terms of cyborg and monster theories. Positing that capitalist systems suppress ways of living with possessions which value hybridity between human and material existence, instead privileging dynamics of alienation where objects are given power over people while simultaneously building a sense of shame around uncontrolled accumulation, it suggests a path forward where our concept of the boundaries of the human are elided and we begin to recognize the importance of the spectral. People are haunted by their possessions; rather than a conscious and non-physical 'spirit' animating inarticulate 'matter,' networks of production and consumption imbue ordinary objects with intense agency. This piece examines multiple different ways of living in a material world through affective, visual media and personal narrative alongside Cartesian models of qualitative data.

Keywords: material culture, oral history, photovoice, institutional mapping, cyborg theory, monster theory, network, qualitative data analysis, spectrality, nonrepresentational geography, Marxism, biopower, hoarding, consumption, magical practice, topology, storytelling, exchange, mind-body dualism

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