The values of craft
Craft has seen a surge of interest over the last decade, as a topic of scientific interest, daily practice, or act of socio-political contestation. A variety of disciplines are currently involved in craft studies and each of them seems to distinguish different values of craft. Young people seem to value the vocational and meaningful character of craft. In line with this, craft is politically charged by valuing its principles of excellence and durability and claiming these as a pathway to the future. A new generation of craftspeople stresses ethical aspects of their work, emphasizing sustainability for instance. They value what they make, but clearly also how it is made. Anthropologists have recognized this as a difference between making and doing, each of which creates its own value. In academia, the field of heritage focusses on safeguarding knowledge of ‘old’ crafts, valuing tradition and authenticity. The ‘material turn’ in the humanities brought attention to craft, and in particular the role and value of materials. This also affects fields such as economics and architecture where we can observe a shift in the perception of materials, such as the proposal for the Universal Declaration of Material Rights. Moreover, there is increasing interest in exploring alternative economic systems, based for instance on the work of Thornstein Veblen and his ‘Instinct of workmanship’. The goal of this seminar is to bring together these different perspectives to explore cross-disciplinary approaches to craft, how they are interrelated, and whether they converge in a shared set of research questions for the future.
Note that participation will be by invitation only. Please contact Maikel Kuijpers for more information.