Making Futures 2021

Introduction to Session One: Re-crafting the Local-Global Maker Relationship

The seventh edition of our Making Futures biennial international research conference will be held on 16th September 2021.

This session will explore the ways in which makers are rethinking their positions with respect to the shifting Local/Global lines and interfaces outlined in the ‘Background Agenda’. The initiatives arising from these reconfigurations might refer to pre-pandemic activities, perhaps in the expectation that these can be reactivated in a post-pandemic future, or designed to take account of pandemic restrictions, for example, on physical movement and group meetings.

At the level of the local, we are keen to explore the ways in which contemporary makers and artists-craftspeople, as individuals or groups, are utilising, or developing, their skills and disciplinary interests in arrangements that engage with place-making, the locale, and community-building. For example, by promoting positive local identities through the use of particular local materials, knowledge and skills in making, or through socially engaged practices that expand our ideas of what ‘making’ with reference to a locale might possibly mean. This could include collaborations in pursuit of (for example) regional historical, geographical or environmental narratives, maker-spaces that perform ‘Jugaad’ inspired forms of frugal innovation to develop local solutions to local issues, craft-supported forms of public activism, or projects helping to sustain community health and well-being. This last point is particularly poignant given the physical, mental and emotional isolation many have experienced under COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

In whatever ways respondents choose to narrate the local as a site of agency and action, this session is also interested in hearing how the locale is articulated in relation to conceptions of the global plane of actions and effects. Of particular interest here is how this issue might be approached through the lens of a ‘Cosmopolitan Localism’ and what this might mean in concrete terms, for example, through collaborations and partnerships. There are also other ways in which a ‘Cosmopolitan Localism’ might be configured, including those in which (in a time of pandemic enforced restricted physical movement), presence, place, material production and design are conceived as not only arising from discrete physical locales, but from digital platforms that bring local makers into dialogue with global fashion trends, audiences and consumers.

We are also interested in how forms of ‘Cosmopolitan Localism’ might inadvertently expose, or give rise to, misconceptions and frictions (productive or otherwise), for instance, around identity and meaning. To give but one example: the tensions that can arise in craft development projects between traditional indigenous makers using local patterns with a collective provenance, and modern design-led maker cultures with their individual copyright practices. We might also point to the ways in which disciplinary boundaries are becoming increasingly fluid, as reflected in the way commentators (at least in the West) often vacillate between the term’s ‘artist’, ‘maker’, ‘contemporary crafts’, ‘design-to-make’, and ‘neo-artisanal’, and how this ambiguity might conflict with long-standing meanings in traditional contexts.