Speakers

Rabbit Goody, Thistle Hill Weavers

Rabbit Goody began her weaving career by producing handwoven scarves and shawls for the New York and Boston markets. This, combined with her interest in historic textiles, led her to pursue a career in the historic museum field as both a Domestic Arts interpreter and curator of textiles. This afforded her access to thousands of historic textiles and texts illustrating traditional process. Her interest in reproducing historic textiles allowed her to combine her hand skills with her understanding of these historic methods. Ultimately, she realized that producing everything by hand was limiting for her both physically and economically; mechanization was clearly the next step. Her love of grease, lint, and gears allowed her to pursue mechanical methods for reproducing textiles in the style most closely associated with historic process while still allowing a way to produce textiles in sufficient volume to earn a living.

Yuan Yi, Columbia University

Yuan Yi is a Ph.D. candidate in modern Chinese history at Columbia University. With a broad interest in the history of science and technology, her research focuses on China’s industrialization, especially in the sector of textile production. Her dissertation, Malfunctioning Machinery: The Global Making of Chinese Cotton Factories, 1889-1949, examines the mechanization of cotton spinning in China from a technological perspective. Drawing upon extant spinning machines, the manufacturers’ manuals, engineering journals, and company documents from American machine firms and Chinese cotton mills, it shows how Chinese engineers, mechanics, and female machine operators attempted to solve technological problems specific to their factories, through continued modification and repair of malfunctioning foreign machines. Exploring a variety of handwork performed by technical experts such as modification, repair, maintenance, and operation, it argues for the significance of manual labor in the making of the factory system, thereby complicating the long-held dichotomy between craft and mechanization.

Justin Squizzero, The Burroughs Garret

Handweaver Justin Squizzero challenges modern definitions of progress by creating functional textiles that celebrate the natural world and the dignity of human labor. Echoing a time when utilitarian objects were entirely handcrafted, his work connects material, maker, and user across time and place. Squizzero’s venture, The Burroughs Garret, draws on the textile traditions of his northern Vermont home, marrying natural dyes and fibers with a reserved aesthetic rooted in early New England. Produced on his 19th-century farm using 200-year-old hand looms, Squizzero’s textiles examine the role of handcraft in a post-industrial society, questioning the human experience in a digital age.

Carol Cassidy, Lao Textiles

Carol Cassidy's Lao Textiles workshop, studio and gallery creates woven art. Specializing in 100 percent hand-woven silk, Carol and the 40 Lao artisans she employs produce exquisitely crafted wall hangings, scarves, shawls and custom furnishing fabrics. Carol's pieces are displayed in galleries and museums throughout the Unites States: The Textile Museum in Washington, DC, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

American Carol Cassidy has been weaving since she was 17 years old. Having worked in virtually every continent from America to Africa, she arrived in Laos in 1989, as a textile expert with the United Nations Development Programme. In Laos Carol discovered a "weaver's paradise": a country with a rich history of weaving and an elaborate vocabulary of design motifs.  A year later, she started Lao Textiles, among the first commercial weaving workshops in Laos.

Pamela Smith, Columbia University

Pamela H. Smith is Seth Low Professor of History at Columbia University, and founding Director of the Center for Science and Society and of The Making and Knowing Project (www.makingandknowing.org). Her articles and books, especially The Body of the Artisan (2004), Ways of Making and Knowing (ed. P. H. Smith, A. R. W. Meyers and H. Cook, pbk 2017), and From Lived Experience to the Written Word: Recovering Skill and Art (forthcoming Chicago), examine craft and practical knowledge. Her edited volume The Matter of Art (ed. C. Anderson, A. Dunlop, P. H. Smith, pbk 2016) treats materiality, making, and meaning, and Entangled Itineraries: Materials, Practices, and Knowledges across Eurasia (2019) deals with the movement of materials and techniques across Eurasia before 1800. In the collaborative research and teaching initiative, The Making and Knowing Project, she and the Making and Knowing Team investigate practical knowledge through text-, object-, and laboratory-based research.

Timothy Oakes, The University of Colorado Boulder

Tim Oakes is Professor of Geography and Director of the Center for Asian Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. His work focuses on social and cultural transformation in contemporary China and, in particular, the uses and reinventions of local culture as a resource for economic development and governance objectives. The author of Tourism and Modernity in China, recent books include Making Cultural Cities in Asia: Mobility, Assemblage, and the Politics of Aspirational Urbanism and Faiths on Display: Tourism, Religion, and the State in China. He currently directs the project China Made: Asian Infrastructures and the ‘China Model’ of Development, funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.

Karuna Miryam Dietrich Wielenga, Azim Premji University

Karuna Dietrich Wielenga completed her Ph.D in History from the University of Delhi and was a Newton International Fellow at the University of Oxford from 2016-2018. Currently she teaches at Azim Premji University, Bangalore, India. She is an economic and social historian working on south Asia. Her research interests are in the field of textile history and labour in the informal sector. Her doctoral dissertation explored the changing world of handloom weavers in south India – and the economic restructuring of the industry – from the early nineteenth to the mid twentieth century. Her post-doctoral research focused on the historical emergence of the informal sector in India, looking at the complex interactions and conflicts between labour, capital and the state in a variety of industries between 1930 and 1970. Her work has been published in leading international journals and her book Weaving Histories: The transformation of the handloom industry in south India, c. 1800-1960 will soon be published by the British Academy in association with OUP, UK.

Jacob Eyferth, The University of Chicago

Jacob Eyferth is a social historian of China with research interests in the life and work experience of nonelite people throughout the twentieth century. Trained at the universities of Berlin and Leiden, he has held postdoctoral fellowships at Oxford, Harvard, and Rutgers and taught at Simon Fraser University. Currently, he is associate professor in the department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations of the University of Chicago. Most of his work has focused on the countryside and on the mid-twentieth century, c. 1920–1970. His first book, Eating Rice from Bamboo Roots, is an ethnographic history of a community of rural papermakers in Sichuan. It won the 2011 Joseph Levenson Prize for the best book on China in the post-1900 category. He is currently working on a second book, tentatively titled Cotton, Gender, and Revolution in Twentieth-Century China, that uses cloth and clothing as a lens through which to analyze how the monumental changes of the twentieth century—revolution, collectivization, industrialization, etc.—transformed the lives of rural women.

Eugenia Lean, Columbia University

Professor Eugenia Lean (林郁沁) is a scholar of modern Chinese history, history of science, technology and industry, and affect studies. In her book Public Passions: The Trial of Shi Jianqiao and the Rise of Popular Sympathy in Republican China (University of California Press, 2007), she examines a sensational crime of female passion to document the political role of sentiment in the making of a critical urban public. This book was awarded the 2007 John K. Fairbank prize for the best book in modern East Asian history, given by the American Historical Association. Her forthcoming book, “Manufacturing China’s Vernacular Industrialism: Nativist Tinkerer and Toothpowder Magnate, Chen Diexian (1879-1940),” examines the cultural and intellectual dimensions of industrialization by focusing on the practices and writings of polymath Chen Diexian, a professional writer/editor, science enthusiast, and pharmaceutical industrialist. The project explores the intersection among vernacular industry, commerce, and ways of authenticating knowledge and things in an era of mass communication. 

 

Copyright © 2019. Rethinking Craft in Postindustrial Society. Photo credit: Justin Squizzero