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Making Do Outside a Consumer Culture: Pragmatics and Creativity in a Great Depression-era Gold Mining Camp in Northern Nevada, USA 

Author(s): Benjamin T Barna

Year: 2013

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Summary

This paper takes re-used mundane objects from a gold mining camp occupied in the 1930s as an entry point for commentary on the so-called "creativity crisis" in contemporary American (and Western) society. Since the late nineteenth century, marketing and social conditioning have been used to teach people that particular consumer goods are intended for specific uses, and these mental categories structure people’s interactions with them. The ability to conceive of unfamiliar uses for familiar objects is taken to be one measure of creativity. By applying an analytical approach based on Charles Sanders Peirce’s semiotic, I consider re-used objects recorded in a the Rabbithole Mining District near Nevada's Black Rock Desert to explain differences between "creative" and "non-creative" interactions with material things, and the social and economic conditions that encourage such interactions.


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Making Do Outside a Consumer Culture: Pragmatics and Creativity in a Great Depression-era Gold Mining Camp in Northern Nevada, USA . Benjamin T Barna. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Leicester, England, U.K. 2013 ( tDAR id: 428597)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 219

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America