Craftwork as Problem Solving: Ethnographic Studies of Design and Making, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Craftwork as Problem Solving

Ethnographic Studies of Design and Making, 1st Edition

Edited by Trevor H.J. Marchand


278 pages

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This volume brings together a cross-disciplinary group of anthropologists, researchers of craft, and designer-makers to enumerate and explore the diversity and complexity of problem-solving tactics and strategies employed by craftspeople, together with the key social, cultural, and environmental factors that give rise to particular ways of problem solving. Presenting rich, textured ethnographic studies of craftspeople at work around the world, Craftwork as Problem Solving examines the intelligent practices involved in solving a variety of problems and the ways in which these are perceived and evaluated both by makers and creators themselves, and by the societies in which they work. With attention to local factors such as training regimes and formal education, access to tools, socialisation and cultural understanding, budgetary constraints and market demands, changing technologies and materials, and political and economic regimes, this book sheds fresh light on the multifarious forms of intelligence involved in design and making, inventing and manufacturing, and cultivating and producing. As such, it will appeal to scholars of anthropology, sociology, and cultural geography, as well as to craftspeople with interests in creativity, skilful practice, perception and ethnography.


’This important collection of writings on craft clearly establishes the value of foregrounding the artisan's perspective. Through close attention to the embodied dimension of skilled making, these essays succeed in that most difficult task of rendering tacit knowledge� explicit. The result is a volume of fascinating case studies, which also constitute a paradigm for future research to follow.’ Glenn Adamson, Museum of Arts and Design, New York, USA

About the Editor

Trevor H.J. Marchand is Professor of Social Anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK. He is the author of The Masons of Djenné and Minaret Building and Apprenticeship in Yemen, editor of Making Knowledge and co-editor of the Handbook of Social Anthropology.

About the Series

Anthropological Studies of Creativity and Perception

The books in this series explore the relations, in human social and cultural life, between perception, creativity and skill. Their common aim is to move beyond established approaches in anthropology and material culture studies that treat the inhabited world as a repository of complete objects, already present and available for analysis. Instead these works focus on the creative processes that continually bring these objects into being, along with the persons in whose lives they are entangled. All creative activities entail movement or gesture, and the books in this series are particularly concerned to understand the relations between these creative movements and the inscriptions they yield. Likewise in considering the histories of artefacts, these studies foreground the skills of their makers-cum-users, and the transformations that ensue, rather than tracking their incorporation as finished objects within networks of interpersonal relations. This series is interdisciplinary in orientation, with the concern of the titles always being with the practice of interdisciplinarity: on ways of doing anthropology with other disciplines, rather than doing an anthropology of these subjects. Through this anthropology with focus, they aim to achieve an understanding that is at once holistic and processual, dedicated not so much to the achievement of a final synthesis as to opening up lines of inquiry.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography