Accepted Paper:

From craftivism to craftwashing: craft and the new spirit of global capitalism  
Elke Gaugele (Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna)

Paper short abstract:

This paper analyzes the following interrelations between craftivism and craftwashing: The political setting of blue- and craftwashing within Global Governance politics; the ITCs mission for textile handicraft; the fashioning of social critique as a new spirit of global capitalism.

Paper long abstract:

In the 21st century a new relationship between craft and activism in political and social causes has been shaped by the term craftivism (Geer 2007) Through do-it-yourself spirit, web 2.0 platforms and activities such as guerilla knitting, crocheting tanks, or sewing blankets for peace, craftivists designed new strategies of political activism. At the same time one can observe that textiles and crafts visually, physically sensible represent and implement norms, values and orders that had been set up by the global agenda. The UN-Global Compact (1999) can be seen as historical starting point of the contemporary ethical turn in textiles, discussed here under the perspective of craftwashing. A new arena of aesthetic and politics of cloth, craft and labor arose where designers and brands compete as activists against climate change, ecological crisis, overconsumption, and exploitation of labor. Set up under the normative positing umbrella of the UN economic interest of global enterprises merge with norm posting claims from social, ecological and humanitarian anti-globalization critique. This is part of a politics of craft and craftwashing in the so-called third period of globalization after 1989, which is characterized by the expansion of neoliberalism.

My paper analyzes this interrelations between craftivism to craftwashing outlining the following strands: The political setting of bluewashing and craftwashing within Global Governance politics; the ITCs mission for fashion and African textile handicraft as tools for governance and development policy in cooperation with the luxury industry; the fashioning of social critique as a new spirit of global capitalism (Boltanski/Chiapello 2003).

Panel P131
Which craft? Politics and aesthetics of handicraft in post-industrial contexts