Accepted Paper:

Stitching on the net  

Author:

Jean-Yves Durand (CRIA-UMinho)

Paper short abstract:

A continuous ten-year ethnographic research shows how Portuguese embroiderers resist and adapt to new conditions, and how these can cause deep esthetic changes in the pieces they produce now for a living.

Paper long abstract:

"Lenços de namorados" (lovers' scarves) are a specific type of handmade embroidery from rural Northern Portugal. Their production has been "certified" by the State and they have gained some visibility on the tourist market these past years. Their patterns have started to be used by designers in innovative ways, but they are also reproduced on industrial products that are made abroad. The embroiderers (nowadays almost exclusively women) try to find ways to protect what they feel is "theirs", for instance by publicizing their work on the internet, which also increases the risk of plagiarism and of deterritorialization of the production. Traditionally, these scarves were generally anonymous but some embroiderers now sign their creations, which paradoxically, are a lot less creative than they used to be, as a result of the need for an increased productivity that is inherent to what has become a full-time commercial activity.

For the past ten years, an ethnographic research has followed the evolution of this activity. It is now possible to see how the embroiderers try to resist and adapt to new conditions, and how these can cause deep esthetic changes in the pieces they produce for a living.

Panel WIM-CHAT05
Fashionable tradition: innovation and continuity in the production and consumption of handmade textiles and crafts