Academic Absurdity of the Week: Vindicating Madonna

Someone went and took Madonna’s 1980s hit “Material Girl” (“‘Cause we are living in a material world/And I am a material girl”) and turned it into an academic journal, the Journal of Material Culture. And it offers gems—no, pearls!—like this:

The politics of vibrant matter: Consistency, containment and the concrete of Mussolini’s bunker

Nadia Bartolini, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK.


This article explores the idea of how vibrancy can be produced. Specifically, the attempt is to investigate the multiplicities of vibrancy by considering one of Mussolini’s bunkers. The author examines the location of the bunker in the EUR (Esposizione Universale Romana) neighbourhood in Rome, the bunker’s materiality, and the context and social meaning of the bunker through a contemporary art exhibition called ‘Confronti’ (Confrontations) that took place in the bunker in 2009. The article argues that while emphasizing matter’s inherent vibrancy may be useful in some cases, there is also merit in further unpacking the ways in which vibrancy is produced. In this example, the concrete bunker expresses vibrancy through the processes involved in the emergent material form, and in the sustained politics and social considerations embedded in valuing tangible urban heritage.

Coming next? “Debunking the Bunker: The Immateriality of Hitler’s Final Days.”