Accepted Paper:

THE LIFE THEY ARE LIVING From the making of craft to the making a life worth living  
Christine Moderbacher (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology Halle)

Paper short abstract:

Based on a single event that occurred during my apprenticeship in a carpentry training centre in Brussels, the presentation traces my epistemological shift of attention from a focus on craftwork towards an anthropological practice that is open and attuned to what the world has to tell.

Paper long abstract:

Drawing on the argument that the history of western education has narrowly focused on conceptual thinking that led to a marginalization of the body (Marchand 2008), research about craft and apprenticeship within Anthropology is often focused on a mere sensorial, bodily act of craftwork. In 'THE LIFE THEY ARE LIVING', I argue that with this focus on a mere physical act of making, a division between conscious thought and manual execution is reinforced. Bodily and material aspects of experience are emphasized over intellectual capabilities and often lead to the fact that the 'Craft world' seems like a 'Ghetto of technique' (Adamson 2007: 2). As a consequence, however, the 'Maker' himself stays silent.

Although the fascination with and longing for romantic imaginations of bodily craftwork seems to echo a sentiment many Anthropologists can identify with, the question of how craftwork is actually lived in daily life often remains unanswered. Based on long term field research in a carpentry training workshop in Brussels, my presentation aims to explore the possibilities of answering to this gap by moving away from the making of craft towards merging making with the maker's life trajectories. Through the stories of Hamuda Djerbi, Cise Ibrahima and other training participants, I will discuss the necessity to expand the notion of apprenticeship and craftwork beyond romantic images and the manipulation of physical materials and forms to a larger sense of the 'worker as seeking to shape the world in particular ways that render him central than marginal' (Venkatasan 2015: 305).

Panel P070
Apprenticeship: Illuminating Persons and Places through Shared Practice and Performance