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Accepted Paper:

Documenting relationships: Handloom knowledge in South India  
Annapurna Mamidipudi (Deutsches Museum)

Paper short abstract:

India has 2.3 million are handloom weavers still today. Weavers keep their complex knowledge alive through creating value for their products in the market. How then can we document weaving as knowledge -not as product or process alone- but as a sum of its material, social and cosmological parts?

Paper long abstract:

In 2018, a group of handloom and craft activists organised a week long weaving conference in the weaving town of Chirala, in South India. It was attended by 200 weavers from all over India, and over a hundred panellists drawing from different aspects of the handloom world -designers, policy makers, researchers, marketing agencies. While a lot of the sessions- which included interactions between weavers talking ‘loom’- were recorded, through audio, video and textual interventions, no formal documentation emerged out of the Chirala conference. This was doubly puzzling because the Chirala meeting enjoyed unprecedented approval from most of the people who attended, many who were scholars and reporters. In this paper I would like to reflect on why documentation is particularly difficult for this kind of knowledge practices. Does the medium of text pose a problem to the grasping of this kind of material knowledge? Does the notion of individual authorship interfere in the production of accounts of pluralities that emerged in Chirala? What inhibits the writing of adequate narratives by even those sensitive to the entanglements of text and practice, science and craft, gender and power? Taking James Leach’s idea of knowledge as relation, would it be more apt to think of documentation as a map of relationships, that reveal resonances and dissonances in aligning narratives, rather than seek the narratives themselves?

Panel Evid07b
Responsible documentation? II
  Session 1 Wednesday 31 March, 2021, -