Ethical Practice and Material Ethics: Domestic Technology and Swedish Modernity in the Early Twentieth Century, Exemplified from the Life of Hanna Rydh

Part of the Contributions To Global Historical Archaeology book series (CGHA)


The aim of this chapter is to discuss questions about materiality: how different material phenomena can be involved in an ethical, or more precisely, feminist process concerning public interventions in the material construction of the family, home and household and their related contexts during the last century. A background is Suzanne Spencer-Wood’s (1996: 407) definition of material feminism as a theoretical approach focussing on material culture not just as a product of behaviour but also as an active social agent used by feminists to symbolise and implement their transformations of culture by combining the supposedly separate domestic and public spheres in order to raise women’s status. Reform women gave new meanings to material culture that they used as social agents to change gender ideology, identities, roles and practice. The theoretical approach also relies on discussions concerning ethical practice and ethical materiality as it is highlighted by Stacy Alaimo and Susan Hekman (2008a, b) in their anthology Material Feminisms. Materiality is understood in this chapter as something physical in a broad sense, including domestic animals and the human body. Special attention will be paid to material phenomena as an active and significant factor with a historicity, a force and a value of its own, material agency.


Domestic Work Ethical Practice Ethical Consequence Domestic Task Home Labour 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The research on which this chapter is based was undertaken at the University of Gothenburg, Department of Archaeology, after January 1, 2009, Department of Historical Studies, in the framework of the AREA network, with the support of the Culture 2000 programme of the European Commission. I am deeply thankful to Magnus Bergvalls Stiftelse, who has given generous economic support to the research. My warm thanks to Karin Tegenborg-Falkdalen, Föreningsarkivet i Jämtlands Län, who most helpfully has provided interurban loans of archival material from Östersund to Gothenburg, and to the staff at the University Library of Gothenburg who has assisted for the same purpose. I am grateful to Maria Halla and Johan Halla for their kind permission to let me publish graphs designed by architect Nils Halla, to Föreningsarkivet i Jämtlands län, to Hushållningssällskapet i Jämtlands län and to the City Museum of Gothenburg for generous access to photos and graph. I also wish to thank the editor of this volume for valuable and constructive suggestions to improve the text and Ericka Engelstad and Tove Hjørungdal for our informal seminars about companion species and other significant matters. Anna Söderblom has once again helped me with the English text. Thank you for your time, Anna! And thank you Catarina for valuable aid with picture processing and Jarl, Maria and Catarina Nordbladh for helpful and creative discussions.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Historical StudiesUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden

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