Fabio Gygi: On the Concept of Hoarding - Research Center for Material Culture
15 March 2018

Fabio Gygi: On the Concept of Hoarding

Key Concepts Seminar | 15 Mar 2018 | RCMC

For the March 15th Key Concepts Seminar, Professor Fabio Gygi will discuss the concept of hoarding in relation to museums and material culture.


Fabio Gygi is a Lecturer in Anthropology and Chair of the Centre for Ethnographic Theory at SOAS. Born and raised in Switzerland, Fabio Gygi spent his formative years in Japan, Germany and England. After receiving an MA in European Ethnology and Japanese Studies from the University of Tübingen, he was awarded a PhD in social anthropology by UCL. Before joining SOAS he spent three years as an assistant professor of sociology at the Doshisha University in Kyoto.

Fabio started out in historical anthropology by looking at the material culture of war and how `unspeakable` war experiences were embodied in artefacts called trench art, made predominately in the First World War, and how these influenced the post-war avant-garde in France and Germany.

This primed his interest in materiality and the relationships people entertain with their possessions, an interest he followed when he started working on hoarding and the different forms it takes in different cultural settings. The brunt of Fabio's fieldwork was done in Tokyo, where he helped people clean up their apartments and houses as a form of participant observation and conducted interviews with hoarders, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers.

His research focuses on three aspects: 1) how people deal with their possessions and the everyday cosmologies they engender 2) the way hoarding has become an officially recognized pathology (the DSM-V 2013 classifies it as an independent disorder within the larger category of obsessive-compulsive disorders) and the way gender is materialized through things and the practices associated with them in the Japanese context.