Accepted paper:

Mesogenesis as the developmental scale of craftsmanship: the case of luthiery


Pablo Rojas (EHESS-IMM)

Paper short abstract:

I will argue that craftsmanship, as defined here, is home to a temporality or a developmental scale that is characteristic of skillful action. My short discussion will include a description of such 'mesogenetic' scale taking luthiery, including my practice as well as historical cases, as examples.

Paper long abstract:

In this proposal, far from referring to the execution of a profession or a line of work, craftsmanship points toward a qualitative feel for care, evaluation, risk and skill deeply intertwined with one's involvement in craft. As we know from research on this field, distinctions between abstract and concrete, mental and manual, thought and action, design and execution seem completely impertinent for those who make in situ. Craftsmanship is understood here as an activity that involves the development of an array of skills as well as of personal and comunal experience, inspired in traditional practices and different modalities of in situ action (sprezzatura). Although emphasis is often made on crafts "products" (state approach), deferring its formation, perpetuation and gestures that are vital to it, my proposal does not seek to highlight commodities. Here, craftsmanship is described as a creative process. As an entanglement of undetermined, dynamic activities, craft involves practitioners in open, long-breath commitments, wherein they re-develop perceptual, attentional, motile, linguistic, imaginative and axiological configurations. In this sense, craftsmanship supposes exploratory qualities that repel automatisation. Surely, this also entails becoming immersed in a community (in my case, of luthiers), where such practices and values are cultivated. Studying mesogenesis as the developmental scale of craftsmanship would allow to describe the meaningful fruits that end up being in the bundle of any longstanding tradition. In turn, the community that is involved in a craft is perpetuated without certain knowledge about its own future, since there is no a priori teleology to follow.

panel Cre08
Time and tradition: theorising the temporalities in and of cultural production