Humans are symbolic creatures. In fact, we are the only symbolic creatures. That’s what makes us human. We use symbols to communicate ideas to each other. I’m using symbols to communicate ideas about symbols to you right now. Pretty meta. So we use symbols to communicate. So what? Studying and writing about material culture helps us to understand these symbols. Any object can become a symbol. The Confederate flag was for a short time the symbol of a sovereign nation. Now, most people associate it with racism, but quite a few equate it with brotherhood and heritage. Why do people view these objects differently? If we study material culture, we can understand how to use objects as symbols. If we can understand how to use them, we can use them better, and therefore make the world a better place.

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