Encounters and Translations Across Local-Global Divides

This Thematic Session is part of a two-part event aimed at establishing a series of cross-disciplinary collaborations and research through the development of a global network of academic cooperation and activities, and a Making Futures Journal publication dedicated to the free diffusion of its research outputs. As Part 1, it is intended that this session will be followed with a Part 2 event in May 2020 that will form the backbone of a north American edition of Making Futures to be held at the Fuller Craft Museum, MA, USA. It is anticipated that several of the 2019 UK presenters will be invited to participate in the 2020 Making Futures Fuller Craft Museum event.

The fundamental question driving this session is: how have craft and maker practices and artefacts enabled (or constrained?) cross-cultural encounters and translations across local-global divides? The session invites presentations that will explore cross-cultural exchange and conflict, historical and contemporary, as represented through making practices and the resultant artefacts we share, buy and exchange.

[Post]Colonial Pasts, Presents and Futures:

This thematic session will investigate the tensions and flows expressed in craft and design-to-make production and consumption through the optic of the [post]colonial past, present and possible futures of global capitalism. At its heart is exploration of the ways in which, from the early Modern period until today, maker practices and their meanings have been influenced and developed through cross-cultural exposures to different terminologies, new materials and new techniques of making, along with new audiences and new social priorities. In short, we will explore the ways in which the practices, forms and values of art, craft and design have emerged and changed through Modernity, within and across cultures, as represented through crafted artefacts.

People, Place Meaning:

Craft is often seen as a stand-in for a politics of identity whereupon the issue of how to ensure its continuity and relevance represents a dynamic and contested field in which interpretations of past, present and future, linked to regional, national and international boundaries and the communities they are said to represent, are negotiated under the impact of indigenous and colonial histories, global capitalism, and the characteristically modern experiences of diaspora, migration, refugee displacement and exile. Thus, issues of identity and community belonging (or not) are often communicated through the artefacts we make, surround ourselves with, share and exchange.

Participants in this session may touch on what it means to belong to a specific land, or perhaps what it means to be stateless or unrecognised, or index the movements and stresses between traditional cultures and modernity, between rural and urban cultures, between notions of authenticity, cultural heritage and identity derived under the influence of non-Western and Western markets, aesthetics and ideologies.

Cross-Cultural Encounters - Translations (& Misunderstandings?):

The act of translation is perhaps central here, translation conceived as a creative act as explored by Walter Benjamin. From the semantics of terms such as artist, craftsperson, maker, and artisanal producer, through to the expressive encounters with materials, tools and technologies these words imply. These interactions and transcriptions might result in hybrid productions, including serendipitous (or perhaps not so fortuitous) mistranslations and misunderstandings, that nonetheless lead to new material languages, or situations in which new traditions are established, production techniques evolved, and audiences and markets developed.

We invite both practice-based case studies and papers of a more theoretical inclination, historical and contemporary. While all contributions should address the issue of how craft and maker artefacts reflect and enable (or maybe constrain?) cross-cultural encounters and translations. Indicative themes framing this session might include, but are not limited to:

    • Exploration and Encounter through Material Culture
    • Technical and Cultural Continuity, Disruption and Innovation
    • Migration, Exile
    • Tolerance and Adaptation
    • Conflict, Mistranslation and Misunderstandings
    • Identity, Land and Place-making
    • Communal and collaborative approaches to creative making
    • Craft cultures and their products in relation to other popular and folk forms of expression, including storytelling and oral histories and historical memoirs, music, dance, and film, etc.

This particular session celebrates the partnership between Plymouth College of Art, UK, the Fuller Craft Museum, USA, and The Box, Plymouth, UK, to mark the 400thanniversary in 2020 of the 1620 Mayflower crossing from Plymouth, UK to Plymouth, New England, USA. The anniversary will be marked by an exhibition ‘Another Crossing’ opening at the Fuller Craft Museum in May 2020, and moving to Plymouth, UK, in November 2020, curated by Glenn Adamson.