The eighteenth century saw the creation of a number of remarkable mechanical androids: at least ten prominent automata were built between 1735 and 1810 by clockmakers, court mechanics, and other artisans from France, Switzerland, Austria, and the German lands. Designed to perform sophisticated activities such as writing, drawing, or music making, these “Enlightenment automata” have attracted continuous critical attention from the time they were made to the present, often as harbingers of the modern industrial age, an era during which human bodies and souls supposedly became mechanized.
In Androids in the Enlightenment, Adelheid Voskuhl investigates two such automata—both depicting piano-playing women. These automata not only play music, but also move their heads, eyes, and torsos to mimic a sentimental body technique of the eighteenth century: musicians were expected to generate sentiments in themselves while playing, then communicate them to the audience through bodily motions. Voskuhl argues, contrary to much of the subsequent scholarly conversation, that these automata were unique masterpieces that illustrated the sentimental culture of a civil society rather than expressions of anxiety about the mechanization of humans by industrial technology. She demonstrates that only in a later age of industrial factory production did mechanical androids instill the fear that modern selves and societies had become indistinguishable from machines.
With new markets opening up for goods produced by artisans from all parts of the world, craft commercialization and craft industries have become key components of local economies. Now with the emergence of the Fair Trade movement and public opposition to sweatshop labor, many people are demanding that artisans in third world countries not be exploited for their labor.
Bringing together case studies from the Americas and Asia, this timely collection of articles addresses the interplay among subsistence activities, craft production, and the global market. It contributes to current debates on economic inequality by offering practical examples of the political, economic, and cultural issues surrounding artisan production as an expressive vehicle of ethnic and gender identity.
Striking a balance between economic and ethnographic analyses, the contributors observe what has worked and what hasn't in a range of craft cooperatives and show how some artisans have expanded their entrepreneurial role by marketing crafts in addition to producing them. Among the topics discussed are the accommodation of craft traditions in the global market, fair trade issues, and the emerging role of the anthropologist as a proactive agent for artisan groups.
As the gap between rich and poor widens, the fate of subsistence economies seems more and more uncertain. The artisans in this book show that people can and do employ innovative opportunities to develop their talents, and in the process strengthen their ethnic identities.
Introduction: Facing the Challenges of Artisan Production in the Global Market / Kimberly M. Grimes and B. Lynne Milgram
Democratizing International Production and Trade: North American Alternative Trading Organizations / Kimberly M. Grimes
Building on Local Strengths: Nepalese Fair Trade Textiles / Rachel MacHenry
"That They Be in the Middle, Lord": Women, Weaving, and Cultural Survival in Highland Chiapas, Mexico / Christine E. Eber
The International Craft Market: A Double-Edged Sword for Guatemalan Maya Women / Martha Lynd
Of Women, Hope, and Angels: Fair Trade and Artisan Production in a Squatter Settlement in Guatemala City / Brenda Rosenbaum
Reorganizing Textile Production for the Global Market: Women’s Craft Cooperatives in Ifugao, Upland Philippines / B. Lynne Milgram
Textile Production in Rural Oaxaca, Mexico, and the Complexities of the Global Market for Handmade Crafts / Jeffrey H. Cohen
"Part-Time for Pin Money": The Legacy of Navajo Women’s Craft Production / Kathy M’Closkey
The Hard Sell: Anthropologists as Brokers of Crafts in the Global Marketplace / Andrew Causey
Postscript: To Market, To Market / June Nash
In the only modern study synthesizing nineteenth-century American labor
history, Bruce Laurie examines the character of working-class factionalism, plebian expectations of government, and relations between the organized few and the unorganized many. Laurie also examines the republican tradition and the movements that drew on it, from the General Trades Unions in the age of Jackson to the Knights of Labor later in the century.
Did ordinary Italians have a ‘Renaissance’? This book presents the first in-depth exploration of how artisans and small local traders experienced the material and cultural Renaissance. Drawing on a rich blend of sixteenthcentury visual and archival evidence, it examines how individuals and families at artisanal levels (such as shoemakers, barbers, bakers and innkeepers) lived and worked, managed their household economies and consumption, socialised in their homes, and engaged with the arts and the markets for luxury goods. It demonstrates that although the economic and social status of local craftsmen and traders was relatively low, their material possessions show how these men and women who rarely make it into the history books were fully engaged with contemporary culture, cultural customs and the urban way of life.
This new book brings to life the material-culture heritage of southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee. In Backcountry Makers, Betsy K. White expands on her previous study of the region’s rich decorative arts legacy, Great Road Style, to offer a closer look at the individual artisans responsible for the diverse works that constitute that legacy.
Beautifully illustrated with some 230 photographs, most of them in color, this volume includes biographical sketches of seventy-five makers—potters, weavers, spinners, quilters, embroiderers, cabinetmakers, metalsmiths, clocksmiths, gunsmiths, and artists—who worked in the region from the earliest eighteenth-century settlement days to the late twentieth century. The entry for each artisan is accompanied by one or more images of a signed or marked work, or, in a number of instances, an unmarked work with certain provenance.
These vignettes offer a fascinating glimpse of the people behind the various pieces, describing their background, family life, and where they learned their trade. Using census records and other documentary evidence, White has traced the earliest of these artisans from their origins in such places as Europe and Philadelphia down through the Great Valley of Virginia to their ultimate destinations in southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee. Along with the photos displaying the products of their craftsmanship, the book also includes a number of evocative images of the artists and their homes and towns, thus giving the reader a fuller sense of the region where these gifted people lived and worked.
One of the few studies to addresses handmade objects in this locale—and one of the even fewer works to focus on the artisans
themselves— Backcountry Makers will be of great value not only to scholars of material culture and the arts in Appalachia but also to those who collect regional antiques and crafts and want to know more about the individuals who made them.
The Body Impolitic is a critical study of tradition, not merely as an ornament of local and national heritage, but also as a millstone around the necks of those who are condemned to produce it.
Michael Herzfeld takes us inside a rich variety of small-town Cretan artisans' workshops to show how apprentices are systematically thwarted into learning by stealth and guile. This harsh training reinforces a stereotype of artisans as rude and uncultured. Moreover, the same stereotypes that marginalize artisans locally also operate to marginalize Cretans within the Greek nation and Greece itself within the international community. What Herzfeld identifies as "the global hierarchy of value" thus frames the nation's ancient monuments and traditional handicrafts as evidence of incurable "backwardness."
Herzfeld's sensitive observations offer an intimately grounded way of understanding the effects of globalization and of one of its most visible offshoots, the heritage industry, on the lives of ordinary people in many parts of the world today.
The study of craft production is a complex and challenging one that illuminates key aspects of the material, organizational, and ideological interests, values, and capacities of a given culture.
Many crafts are treated as separate, but are actually practiced concurrently and in close proximity to each other, facilitating crucial interaction. There is a need for a balanced evaluation of the roles of producer and consumer in craft production, and the importance of properly contextualized workshop excavations and the definition of the entire sequence of operation in documenting craft production both as a social and material process.
Craft Production in Complex Societies redresses the skewed conception and approach to craft production that have been shaped by studies focused on separate, single medium crafts, finished products, and the consumer. It presents case studies and regional syntheses from diverse geographical areas, time periods, and sociopolitical complexities that break important new ground in the anthropological study of the creative role and social identity of the producer and multi-craft production. It is expected to serve as a key reference in craft studies for many years to come.
After Mexico’s revolution of 1910–1920, intellectuals sought to forge a unified cultural nation out of the country’s diverse populace. Their efforts resulted in an “ethnicized” interpretation of Mexicanness that intentionally incorporated elements of folk and indigenous culture. In this rich history, Rick A. López explains how thinkers and artists, including the anthropologist Manuel Gamio, the composer Carlos Chávez, the educator Moisés Sáenz, the painter Diego Rivera, and many less-known figures, formulated and promoted a notion of nationhood in which previously denigrated vernacular arts—dance, music, and handicrafts such as textiles, basketry, ceramics, wooden toys, and ritual masks—came to be seen as symbolic of Mexico’s modernity and national distinctiveness. López examines how the nationalist project intersected with transnational intellectual and artistic currents, as well as how it was adapted in rural communities. He provides an in-depth account of artisanal practices in the village of Olinalá, located in the mountainous southern state of Guerrero. Since the 1920s, Olinalá has been renowned for its lacquered boxes and gourds, which have been considered to be among the “most Mexican” of the nation’s arts. Crafting Mexico illuminates the role of cultural politics and visual production in Mexico’s transformation from a regionally and culturally fragmented country into a modern nation-state with an inclusive and compelling national identity.
“Artisan” has become a buzzword in the developed world, used for items like cheese, wine, and baskets, as corporations succeed at branding their cheap, mass-produced products with the popular appeal of small-batch, handmade goods. The unforgiving realities of the artisan economy, however, never left the global south, and anthropologists have worried over the fate of resilient craftspeople as global capitalism remade their cultural and economic lives. Yet artisans are proving to be surprisingly vital players in contemporary capitalism, as they interlock innovation and tradition to create effective new forms of entrepreneurship. Based on seven years of extensive research in Colombia and Ecuador, veteran ethnographers Jason Antrosio and Rudi Colloredo-Mansfeld’s Fast, Easy, and In Cash explores how small-scale production and global capitalism are not directly opposed, but rather are essential partners in economic development.
Antrosio and Colloredo-Mansfeld demonstrate how artisan trades evolve in modern Latin American communities. In uncertain economies, small manufacturers have adapted to excel at home-based production, design, technological efficiency, and investments. Vivid case studies illuminate this process: peasant farmers in Túquerres, Otavalo weavers, Tigua painters, and the t-shirt industry of Atuntaqui. Fast, Easy, and In Cash exposes how these ambitious artisans, far from being holdovers from the past, are crucial for capitalist innovation in their communities and provide indispensable lessons in how we should understand and cultivate local economies in this era of globalization.
How and why early modern European artisans began to record their knowledge.
In From Lived Experience to the Written Word, Pamela H. Smith considers how and why, beginning in 1400 CE, European craftspeople began to write down their making practices. Rather than simply passing along knowledge in the workshop, these literate artisans chose to publish handbooks, guides, treatises, tip sheets, graphs, and recipe books, sparking early technical writing and laying the groundwork for how we think about scientific knowledge today.
Focusing on metalworking from 1400–1800 CE, Smith looks at the nature of craft knowledge and skill, studying present-day and historical practices, objects, recipes, and artisanal manuals. From these sources, she considers how we can reconstruct centuries of largely lost knowledge. In doing so, she aims not only to unearth the techniques, material processes, and embodied experience of the past but also to gain insight into the lifeworld of artisans and their understandings of matter.
In this creative ethnography Les W. Field challenges a post-Sandinista national conception of identity, one that threatens to constrict the future of subaltern Nicaraguans. Drawing on the works and words of artisans and artisanas, Indians, and mestizos, Field critiques the national ideology of ethnic homogeneity and analyzes the new forms of social movement that have distinguished late-twentieth-century Nicaragua. As a framework for these analytic discussions, Field uses the colonial-era play El Güegüence o Macho Ratón and the literature relating to it. Elite appropriations of El Güegüence construe it as an allegory of mestizo national identity in which mestizaje is defined as the production of a national majority of ethnically bounded non-Indians in active collaboration with the state. By contrast, Field interprets the play as a parable of cultural history and not a declaration of cultural identity, a scatological reflection on power and the state, and an evocation of collective loss and humor broadly associated with the national experience of disempowered social groups. By engaging with those most intimately involved in the performance of the play—and by including essays by some of these artisans—Field shows how El Güegüence tells a story about the passing of time, the absurdity of authority, and the contradictions of coping with inheritances of the past. Refusing essentialist notions of what it means to be Indian or artisan, Field explains the reemergence of politicized indigenous identity in western Nicaragua and relates this to the longer history of artisan political organization. Parting ways with many scholars who associate the notion of mestizaje with identity loss and hegemony, Field emphasizes its creative, productive, and insightful meanings. With an emphasis on the particular struggles of women artisans, he explores the reasons why forms of collective identity have posed various kinds of predicaments for this marginalized class of western Nicaraguans. This book will appeal to readers beyond the field of Latin American anthropology, including students and scholars of literature, intellectual history, women’s studies, and the politics of ethnicity.
It whispers, it sings, it rocks, and it howls. It expresses the voice of the folk—the open road, freedom, protest and rebellion, youth and love. It is the acoustic guitar. And over the last five decades it has become a quintessential American icon. Because this musical instrument is significant to so many—in ways that are emotional, cultural, and economic—guitar making has experienced a renaissance in North America, both as a popular hobby and, for some, a way of life.
In Guitar Makers, Kathryn Marie Dudley introduces us to builders of artisanal guitars, their place in the art world, and the specialized knowledge they’ve developed. Drawing on in-depth interviews with members of the lutherie community, she finds that guitar making is a social movement with political implications. Guitars are not simply made—they are born. Artisans listen to their wood, respond to its liveliness, and strive to endow each instrument with an unforgettable tone. Although professional luthiers work within a market society, Dudley observes that their overriding sentiment is passion and love of the craft. Guitar makers are not aiming for quick turnover or the low-cost reproduction of commodities but the creation of singular instruments with unique qualities, and face-to-face transactions between makers, buyers, and dealers are commonplace.
In an era when technological change has pushed skilled artisanship to the margins of the global economy, and in the midst of a capitalist system that places a premium on ever faster and more efficient modes of commerce, Dudley shows us how artisanal guitar makers have carved out a unique world that operates on alternative, more humane, and ecologically sustainable terms.
It’s the 1960s. The Vietnam War is raging and protests are erupting across the United States. In many quarters, young people are dropping out of society, leaving their urban homes behind in an attempt to find a safe place to live on their own terms, to grow their own food, and to avoid a war they passionately decry. During this time, West Virginia becomes a haven for thousands of these homesteaders—or back-to-the-landers, as they are termed by some. Others call them hippies.
When the going got rough, many left. But a significant number remain to this day. Some were artisans when they arrived, while others adopted a craft that provided them with the cash necessary to survive. Hippie Homesteaders tells the story of this movement from the viewpoint of forty artisans and musicians who came to the state, lived on the land, and created successful careers with their craft. There’s the couple that made baskets coveted by the Smithsonian Institution’s Renwick Gallery. There’s the draft-dodger that fled to Canada and then became a premier furniture maker. There’s the Boston-born VISTA worker who started a quilting cooperative. And, there’s the immigrant Chinese potter who lived on a commune.
Along with these stories, Hippie Homesteaders examines the serendipitous timing of this influx and the community and economic support these crafters received from residents and state agencies in West Virginia. Without these young transplants, it’s possible there would be no Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia, the first statewide collection of fine arts and handcrafts in the nation, and no Mountain Stage, the weekly live musical program broadcast worldwide on National Public Radio since 1983. Forget what you know about West Virginia.
Hippie Homesteaders isn’t about coal or hillbillies or moonshine or poverty. It is the story of why West Virginia was—and still is—a kind of heaven to so many.
Honor Among Thieves examines associations of craftsmen in the framework of ancient economics and transaction costs. Scholars have long viewed such associations primarily as social or religious groups that provided mutual support, proper burial, and sociability, and spaces where nonelite individuals could seek status supposedly denied them in their contemporary society. However, the analysis presented here concentrates on how craftsmen, merchants, and associations interacted with each other and with elite and nonelite constituencies; managed economic, political, social, and legal activities; represented their concerns to the authorities; and acquired and used social capital—a new and important view of these economic engines.
Philip F. Venticinque offers a study of associations from a social, economic, and legal point of view, and in the process examines how they helped their members overcome high transaction costs—the “costs of doing business”—through the development of social capital. He explores associations from the “bottom up,” in order to see how their members create status and reputation outside of an elite framework. He thus explores how occupations regarded as thieves in elite ideology create their own systems of honor.
Honor Among Thieves will be of interest to scholars of the ancient economy, of social groups, and Roman Egypt in all periods.
Kenya was where the term “informal sector” was first used in 1971. During the 1980s the term “jua kali” — in Swahili “hot sun” — came to be used of the informal sector artisans, such as carworkers and metalworkers, who were working under the hot sun because of a lack of premises. Gradually it came to refer to anybody in self-employment. And in 1988 the government set up the Jua Kali Development Programme.
In this remarkable book Kenneth King brings the subject alive through the photographs and life histories of jua kali people. He has also revisited, twenty years later, many of the artisans whom he interviewed exhaustively in the period from 1972 to 1974 and about whom he wrote in The African Artisan, one of the first full-length studies to be published on the informal sector.
For donors, NGOs, and national governments, the book offers many relevant examples, and some cautions, about what has been achieved by ordinary Kenyans, mostly without government support. It will prove equally valuable for students and teachers of development policy, technology policy, and education and training policies not least because of its superb bibliography of over 700 entries related to small enterprise development.
Is popular culture merely a process of creating, marketing, and consuming a final product, or is it an expression of the artist's surroundings and an attempt to alter them? Noted Argentine/Mexican anthropologist Néstor García Canclini addresses these questions and more in Transforming Modernity, a translation of Las culturas populares en el capitalismo. Based on fieldwork among the Purépecha of Michoacán, Mexico, some of the most talented artisans of the New World, the book is not so much a work of ethnography as of philosophy—a cultural critique of modernism. García Canclini delineates three interpretations of popular culture: spontaneous creation, which posits that artistic expression is the realization of beauty and knowledge; "memory for sale," which holds that original products are created for sale in the imposed capitalist system; and the tourist outlook, whereby collectibles are created to justify development and to provide insight into what capitalism has achieved.
Transforming Modernity argues strongly for popular culture as an instrument of understanding, reproducing, and transforming the social system in order to elaborate and construct class hegemony and to reflect the unequal appropriation and distribution of cultural capital. With its wide scope, this book should appeal to readers within and well beyond anthropology—those interested in cultural theory, social thought, and Mesoamerican culture.