From Oaxacan wood carvings to dessert kitchens in provincial France, Critical Craft presents thirteen ethnographies which examine what defines and makes ‘craft’ in a wide variety of practices from around the world. Challenging the conventional understanding of craft as a survival, a revival, or something that resists capitalism, the book turns instead to the designers, DIY enthusiasts, traditional artisans, and technical programmers who consider their labor to be craft, in order to comprehend how they make sense of it. The authors’ ethnographic studies focus on the individuals and communities who claim a practice as their own, bypassing the question of craft survival to ask how and why activities termed craft are mobilized and reproduced. Moving beyond regional studies of heritage artisanship, the authors suggest that ideas of craft are by definition part of a larger cosmopolitan dialogue of power and identity. By paying careful attention to these sometimes conflicting voices, this collection shows that there is great flexibility in terms of which activities are labelled ‘craft’. In fact, there are many related ideas of craft and these shape distinct engagements with materials, people, and the economy. Case studies from countries including Mexico, Nigeria, India, Taiwan, the Philippines, and France draw together evidence based on linguistics, microsociology, and participant observation to explore the shifting terrain on which those engaged in craft are operating. What emerges is a fascinating picture which shows how claims about craft are an integral part of contemporary global change.
Table of Contents
1: Introduction: Taking Stock of Craft in AnthropologyAlicia Ory DeNicola, Oxford College of Emory University, USA and Clare M. Wilkinson-Weber, Washington State University Vancouver, USAPart I: Contentions2: Who Authors Crafts? Producing Woodcarvings and Authorship in Oaxaca, MexicoAlanna Cant, University of Oslo, Norway3: Forging Source: Considering the Craft of Computer Programming Lane DeNicola, Emory University, USA4: American Beauty: The Middle Class Arts and Crafts Revival in the United States Frances E. Mascia-Lees, Rutgers University, USA5: Designs on Craft: Negotiating Artisanal Knowledge and Identity in IndiaClare M. Wilkinson-Weber, Washington State University Vancouver, USA and Alicia Ory DeNicola, Oxford College of Emory University, USA6: Nomadic Artisans in Central America: Building Plurilocal Communities through Craft Millaray Villalobos, Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería, Costa RicaPart II: Conundrums7: Number in Craft: Situated Numbering Practices in Do-It-Yourself Sensor SystemsDawn Nafus and Richard Beckwith, Intel Corporation, USA8: Crafting Good Chocolate in France and the US Susan Terrio, Georgetown University, USA9: Creativity, Critique and Conservatism: Keeping Craft Alive among Moroccan Carpet Weavers and French Organic Farmers Myriem Naji, University College London, UK10: Refashioning a Global Craft Commodity Flow from the Central PhilippinesB. Lynne Milgram, OCAD University, CanadaPart III: Conflicts11: ConflictingIdeologiesof the DigitalHand: Locating the Material in a Digital AgeDaniela Rosner, University of Washington, USA12: Materials, the Nation and the Self: Division of Labor in a Taiwanese CraftGeoffrey Gowlland, University of Oslo, Norway13: Craft, Memory and Loss: Hand-Embroidery in Zaria City, NigeriaElisha Renne, University of Michigan, USA14: Crafting Muslim Artisans: Agency and Exclusion in India’s Urban Craft CommunitiesMira Mohsini, Kalamazoo College, USANotesReferencesIndex
Clare M. Wilkinson-Weber is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Washington State University Vancouver, USA.Alicia Ory DeNicola is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Oxford College of Emory University, USA.
"Critical Craft is an effective contribution to the anthropology of craft, of work, and of 'thing' or objects. It clearly demonstrates that there is more to crafts of all sorts than 'tradition,' expertise, and 'authenticity.' Anthropologists and others must be wary of assumptions about who does what kind of work or possesses what kind of knowledge, and we must be, like the authors of these quality essays, aware of the (unequal) agency of individuals and groups as they struggle within the field of any particular craft industry. - Anthropology Review Database - Jack David Eller [The book] has extended my understanding of craft as an integral part of contemporary global change ... It puts forward a convincing case for craft as a fruitful topic of study for social science scholars. - International Journal of Education Through Art"