Event | An itinerant symposium: The economy and organization of craft

Craft ecosystem Dals Langed

The two-day symposium with presentations, performances and workshops will be held in Dals Långed/Fengerfors (Sweden) on May 2nd and 4th, 2024.

In collaboration with the Biennal Craft Days of West Sweden, the Horizon Europe project Hephaestus is hosting a symposium on the economy and organization of craft. As we are witnessing a revival of interest in craft in society and politics, we want to invite scholars and practitioners to a shared reflection on craft, its economy and organization, in a two days itinerant symposium in West Sweden. Policies like the EU’s The New European Bauhaus and the Swedish Gestaltad Livsmiljö emphasize the role of craft and other forms of creative work, like arts, design and architecture, for the development of a sustainable and inclusive society. This political vision is summarized in the NEB slogan “beautiful | sustainable | together.

In this symposium, we want to focus on the economy and organization of craft as urgent issues to investigate both for craft and for society at large. We see the craft economy as rich of both emerging and traditional forms of organizing where aesthetics, ecology, ethics (of care) intersect in different ways with the economy. At this intersection, the materiality of craft, which is both natural and technological (of old and new technology) play a significant role beyond, or maybe through, the so-much-discussed hand-making. Like the design boom (Dunne & Raby, 2013) of the last decades and the aesthetization of consumption testify, that the aesthetic-economy relationship has become increasingly important for users’/citizens’/consumers’ judgment of what is valuable. The ecological and ethical dimensions of craft organizing raise also interesting questions about the relation between craft and community development. Often craft offers alternatives for local- and community-based forms of organizing the economy, in which craft-culture, -nature and -businesses play a central role.

Although we want to highlight and unpack these dimensions of positive contributions of craft to society and sustainability, the economy and organization of craft are not without problems. The conditions of work of many craft makers might be economically precarious and, especially for some crafts, environmentally difficult. Some crafts are also organized in traditional gender-unequal communities. We see a need for collectively discuss also the problematic dimensions of craft economy and organization and how they unfold in practice.

Bringing together an international group of scholars and practitioners, we would also like to reflect on the varieties of ways in which craft is practiced and organized in Europe and other continents and on its relations with the economic, political and cultural history of the sites in which it develops. Behind the overarching umbrella created by the English term craft, there are in fact a number of local variations and translations of crafts, that we would like to reflect upon during the symposium.

Allow us to exemplify while encouraging you not to be limited by our imagination:

  • Craft, local economies and a relational ethics of organizing (care)
  • Craft and entrepreneurship: ways of juggling in between
  • Craft, aesthetics and economy
  • Craft and industry in relation to each other
  • Craft, art and their organization
  • Craft and values
  • Craft and community organization, local-regional economies and new movements
  • Craft, new technologies and forms of organizing
  • Craft, tradition, innovation and authenticity – a tricky balance
  • Crafting research on craft: method challenges in researching (with) craft

Symposium format and practicalities

The proposed contributions might be based on different forms of research – scientific or artistic or other forms of research – and take different formats, like presentations, workshops, performances, readings and others. We, thus, invite expressions of interest in the form of a max 500 words proposals, including a specification of the space and equipment needed by your contributions. Deadline: 29th of February.

The symposium’s activities are part of the Biennal Craft Days of West Sweden, a regional initiative to promote and strengthen artistic craft  – see info https://craftdays.se/ and will take place between Gothenburg and Dals Långed, homes to the Academy of Art and Design campuses at the University of Gothenburg, partner of the Hephaestus project led by Copenhagen Business School. The symposium is hosted by Business and Design Lab researchers. 

The preliminary program includes a keynote speech at the Academy of Art and Design in Gothenburg in the evening (approx.18.00) of May 2nd, two days of symposium with presentations, performances and workshops in Dals Långed/Fengerfors on May 3rd and 4th, with possible excursions in the surrounding. As the program is preliminary, please make sure you confirm the program with us before booking or you check the updated version on www.hephaestuscraft.eu. We can also assist with advice on accommodation.

A common transport will be organized from Gothenburg, in correspondence with the symposium activities.

Submissions – Extended deadline!

Please, send your proposals (max 500 words) by February 29th, 2024 to elena.raviola@gu.se and natalie.novik@gu.se. You will be notified of acceptance by March 7th, 2024.

The symposium program will be published and communicated to the participants by March 10th.

We look forward to seeing you in Sweden!

The organizing team

  • Elena Raviola
  • Helena Hansson
  • Karl Hallberg
  • Samantha Hookway
  • Ulises Navarro Aguiar
  • Natalie Novik