Accepted Paper:

Memory-work and Empathy: Apprenticeship as archive, excavation and responsibility  
Michele Feder-Nadoff (El Colegio de Michoacán)

Paper short abstract:

This talk considers how memory within the relationship of artisanal apprenticeship implies not only to receive and remember memories shared; but, more accurately, means to remember empathically and actively with our mentor-teachers. What is the "memory-work" of a caring ethnography-in-practice?

Paper long abstract:

Memory plays a significant role in anthropological research and in the interconnections weaving person with place. In artisan practice and apprenticeship memory is complex, and essential. As Bourdieu pointed out, the power of the gift lies in the potent lapses of time, freedom and tension in between transactions of confidence. Memory's role then becomes exponential within the often intensified empathic relationships of mentor-apprenticeships. Memory is also more than intra-personal, it is also intra-collective. What is remembered and what is forgotten is social, as well as political.

When our subjects are our teachers, not our objects, as Ingold insists, what then is our responsibility as investigators to the memories of the mentors we study with, and their communities? What allegiance can we maintain to all the identities and affects, emotions and feelings disclosed, the oral histories of the people imbricated in these stories? To these persons and our relationships?

This talk explores what memory means to the traditional coppersmiths artisans of the Santa Clara del Cobre community where I have apprenticed since 1997. What is memory to artisans, apprentices, and to resultant texts? How are memories shared between apprentice and mentor during apprenticeship-ethnography? How are these intimate exchanges then re-remembered in anthropological disclosure and analysis? This talk considers how memory within the ethnographic process implies not only receiving and remembering the memories shared with us, but, might more accurately mean to remember care-ingly with people and community. In this way apprenticeship becomes "memory-work".

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