Of Bricks and Freight Containers: Notes on the Genealogy of Symbols in the Experience of the Moderns

International Political Anthropology 15 (1):27-35 (2022)
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This paper is an exploration of the multiple meanings that the invention of the brick – this simple artefact that has permitted the raising of complex and durable buildings – has brought to civilisation and to humans in their relationship with the world. I suggest that bricks may have brought a number of novel experiences to society, whose meanings are important for the understanding of the modern condition and its emphasis on rationalism, replicability, precision, standardisation and modularity among other principles. I also point out that bricks, along with rectangular types of packaging, are eminently liminal objects that entail a peculiar form of violence.

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Marius Ion Benta
Romanian Academy, George Baritiu History Institute


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