8. Power to the People: Practices of Empowerment through Craft

Call for Practices:

Over the last decade several projects and exhibitions have explored how crafts can play a central role for empowerment through social development, innovation and entrepreneurship. Yet most often the process and results of these projects have been funneled through systems that have a deeply disempowering effect on most people, such as the monetary economy, consumer/commodity culture and the global market. To challenge this condition, there is a need to explore how craft practices can act as tools for empowerment by actively resisting or bypassing these subjugating mechanisms. Because the social is currently shaped by our monetary economical system, we must ask: can we imagine a new social paradigm, one rooted in hands-on, participatory activities such as craft, skill sharing and local systems of exchange?

To give some justice to the topic, this is not a traditional "call for papers", but rather a call for practices that inspire active, participatory engagement. The track will form a series craft-based seminars, each centered on a participant's proposed craft or "Paper of Practice". We are not seeking power-point presentations in front of passive listeners, but academic craft circles, clever ways to curate critical discourse and forms of engagement through making. Participants will propose specific practice-based seminars that build on their own work while simultaneously engaging participants in hands-on activities and discussion that centers on and emerges from the act of doing.

A paper of practice sent to the conveners will include a short introduction to their subject and craft, some initial notes for the common discussion, and a proposal for how the practice-based seminar will be organized. How do we move the discussion closer to the act of making? How can we craft conversations so that they become characteristically spontaneous, thoughtfully responsive, critically rigorous and sustained over a period of time? How does this kind of discussion emerge as an act of making in its own right?

We encourage explorative and speculative academic practices.

In your description of the workshop, please answer some specific questions:

- what is the topic of your workshop?
- what do you plan to do and engage the participants in?
- how many participants? Can there be several groups doing it (if we have many participants)?
- what materials will be used? (and what will you bring?)
- what facilities would you ideally use?
- how long will the workshop be (1 or 2 hours)?

A short biography of convenors

Lydia Matthews is professor and academic dean at Parsons, having for many years worked with craft and contemporary art. Lydia Matthews, Professor, Parsons the New School for Design -
Email: matthewl@newschool.edu

Pascale Gatzen is associate professor in Integrated Design at Parsons, connecting craft, development and inclusive fashion practices. Pascale Gatzen, Associate Professor, School of Design Strategies, Parsons the New School for Design.
Email: gatzenp@newschool.edu

Otto von Busch is assistant professor in Intergrated Design at Parsons, working with craft and fashion as civic engagement. Otto von Busch, Assistant Professor, School of Design Strategies, Parsons the New School for Design & Senior researcher, Business & Design Lab, Gothenburg University.
Email: vonbusco@newschool.edu