Accepted paper:

Handcrafting: compensating the "invasion de prose" in everyday life


Lydia Maria Arantes (University of Graz)
Margret Jaeger (SFU University)

Paper short abstract:

Based on fieldwork conducted in Austria this paper aims to give reasons for the increasing significance of making things yourself. Details are given on the following aspects: alienation due to division-of-labour, the creative process and object appropriation, gendered identities.

Paper long abstract:

The invasion of <i>prose</i>, once addressed similarly by the French philosopher Edgar Morin, in forms of increased and increasing acceleration, mechanization, automation, etc. is calling for counter strategies. This paper, therefore, aims to elaborate on reactive strategies people reach out to in order to bring <i>po├ęsie</i> back into their daily lives, by means of handcrafting, practising DIY (do-it-yourself), needleworking, etc. Especially after the two world wars making things oneself was one possibility to save money and hence was a practice out of economic necessity. Several studies have shown, however, that handcrafting etc. serves purposes which go far beyond economizing; e.g.: Working processes are becoming more and more 'limited', mostly requiring solely very specific knowledge due to division-of-labour-policies on various levels. This eventually leads to detachment and alienation. In contrast, the process of creating material culture <i>manu propria</i> - from the beginning (the surfacing of an idea) to the end (materializing and finally accomplishing the idea) - implies an extraordinary intimacy between the creator and the object in the making. Fieldwork in Austria has shown that handcrafting furthermore offers the possibility to escape acceleration and to focus on slowing down. In addition handcrafting is starting to dissolve gendered identities and is also advancing to being a lifestyle-activity. The presentation of intermediate research results acquired by a method-triangulation - mainly problem-centred narrative interviews and participant observation - will illustrate some reasons for the increasing significance of the <i>facere manu</i> at the beginning of the 21st century.

panel P118
Objects, domestic routines and the making of everyday life