2 Responses to “talking”


  1. Here is our invitation for presentations at AAG NYC 2012:

    Geographies of craft and crafting
    Doreen Jakob (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Hayden Lorimer and Kendra Strauss (University of Glasgow) and Nicola Thomas (University of Exeter)

    Sponsored by the AAG Cultural Geography Study Group, the Economic Geography Specialty Group and the Geographical Perspectives on Women Specialty Group.

    From provisioning (sewing and knitting garments, woodworking and ironmongery etc.) to communal forms of socialisation (quilting bees, knitting circles) to local markets (craft fairs, farmers’ markets), crafts and crafting have been variously regarded: as peripheral (residual, non-capitalist) forms of production; as the locus of anti-capitalist politics; as an ideal model for cottage-scale entrepreneurialism; and, as the essence of vernacular material culture. When kept from public view, crafts have also long operated as a means of personal fulfilment, self-expression, domestic decoration and sometimes even to celebrate and commemorate notable events in the life of family or friends. As such, the practices and politics of craft encompass a wide variety of forms of social reproduction and have been at the centre of a range of social movements for centuries. A critical awareness of these politics and practices has also informed the cultural appreciation of craft in the creative arts, and its more traditional variant of ‘folk art’.

    The emergence of ‘third wave’ crafting in the 1990s, and the meteoric rise of technologies and applications associated with it – from Etsy to DIY videos on YouTube – has seen the craft movement re-emerge as a social, economic and cultural movement of significance and scope.
    To date, however, there has been only limited work by geographers or other social scientists that has aimed to grapple with the complexities and contradictions of crafting. This session asks: What are the geographies – cultural, political, feminist, localist, aesthetic, economic, racial, urban, rural – of craft and crafting?

    The craft movement is socially and spatially heterogeneous. Such diversity raises a series of questions that might constitute an incipient research agenda. In its different manifestations how does the craft movement embody tensions, linkages and power hierarchies that both challenge and reflect socially-constructed categories of difference such as gender, class, race, ethnicity and sexuality? How do crafting practices and discourses vary within and between urban and rural environments, regions, and nations? How does contemporary crafting reflect and co-construct diverse politics, from radical feminist ‘craftivist’ to middle-class urban nostalgia to traditionalist conservative? In relation to labour, is crafting simultaneously invoked as a route to entrepreneurial independence and (as it has been historically) as an alternative to capitalist alienated labour? How is craft to be defined in relation to art, the artistic labour process and spaces of artistic practice (such as galleries and art schools)? In what ways and among which communities is craft used to encapsulate styles of life aiming to operate at a slower tempo, or that are retrospective in character? How far is the craft resurgence an expression of austerity chic – “keep calm and carry on crafting”?

    This session is intended to have a catalytic effect: prompting discussion, encouraging networking and bringing together work that represents a range of approaches to geographies of craft and crafting. We envision papers that address one or more of the following themes:

    1. craft, labour and social reproduction
    2. ‘craftivism’ and the politics of craft and crafting
    3. crafts, hobbies and forgetting: vernacular histories and geographies of making in everyday communities
    4. the spatialities of crafts and crafting
    5. the influence of technology in crafting
    6. the economics of crafting: its commercialization & capitalization
    7. festivals of crafts/crafts as tools for urban and economic development
    8. the changing social status of the crafter, craftsmanship and the master craftsman

    We welcome contributions that explore conceptual issues, methodological approaches and practice-led or object-centred inquiries into the doing and making of crafts.


  2. And our own AAG proposal:

    Situating Craft Guilds in the Creative Economy: Histories, Politics and Practices

    Craft guilds have an enduring presence in the UK context; emerging as omnipresent institutions in the early modern period, experiencing a revival in association with the Arts and Crafts movement in the late nineteenth century and developing as artist-led networks during periods of craft revival in the twentieth century. This paper addresses the continued currency, role and practices of craft guilds, arguing that we should take the dynamics and practices of craft guilds and their membership seriously given the resilience of these institutions in the creative economy. Craft guilds display a very distinctive combination of notable characteristics: unusually longstanding and resilient, with deep historical roots and wide cultural trajectories; typically artist-maker led; specific to a particular range of practices; quality-controlled through specialised aesthetics of skill, born of long apprenticeship; spatially-defined, with primarily rural memberships of considerable size; producing work which is the most accessible form of artistic experience for millions of people. As such, their internal governance is deeply implicated in a key range of distinctions and working practices with long histories and complex politics and geographies. This paper will be drawn from emerging research that is analyzing the histories, politics, practices of the Devon and Gloucestershire Guild of Craftsmen. We will argue that it is timely to note that the activities that the supposedly ‘marginal’ guilds have traditionally organised are precisely those now being aspired to in support of the ‘new’ broader creative industrial economy and understanding the cultural and historical geographies of this sector is a critical project.

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