Ecstatic things: The power of light in shaping Bedouin homes

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Abstract

This article addresses the orchestration of domestic lighting as an object of anthropological study. It takes Bedouin domestic architecture in southern Jordan as a starting point in an analysis of how light is used as means of safeguarding spaces as part of hospitality practices central to Bedouin culture. By arguing that things are “ecstatic” in the sense that they transcend their own tangibility, the article shows how objects, such as tinted windows, impose themselves on other objects to shape the particular visual presence of the world that informants opt for. Such a presence of the world is analyzed through the notion of “atmosphere” as a contemporaneity of subjective emotions, cultural ideals, and material phenomena. Thus, while boundaries between interior and exterior may be upheld by tangible material strategies, such as walls, these boundaries may also simultaneously be permeated by the ecstasy of material things, which aim to safeguard other aspects of life through less tangible strategies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHome Cultures
Volume14
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)25-49
ISSN1740-6315
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2017

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