Material world: narrative, textility and hand making

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference abstract


Over the past decade, there has been a resurgence of interest in, and enthusiasm for, what have been traditionally referred to as the "gentle arts": baking, knitting, quilting, dressmaking and the more general work of curating a comfortable, nurturing and aesthetically pleasing domestic environment. This enthusiasm has generated (and, in turn, been generated by) an enterprising online community of (home)makers who interact via the sharing of content and conversation on weblogs, social bookmarking websites and through social media.

This paper focuses on the renewed importance of the relationship between hand making and material production, not only in terms of imagining and creating homely spaces, but also in the processes of constituting individual identity and negotiating collective belonging. Responding to narrative accounts of textile-based arts and crafts, drawn primarily from passion area and lifestyle blogs, I will explore three key questions. Firstly, in what ways are hand made objects invested with affective significance and understood as sites that both contain and compel autobiography and memory? Secondly, how can the contemporary (re)embrace of craft forms long associated with women's domestic labour be understood within feminist theorisations of cultural and political power? And, finally, if hand making and the "gentle arts" elicit narratives—about the relationship between self and object, self and community, and inevitably, self and self—what happens to those stories about material labour, economic production and cultural violence, for example the experience of textile workers in the Global South, that are frequently elided within the predominantly Western, middle-class blogosphere?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCultural Studies Association of Australasia annual conference
Subtitle of host publicationDecember 4th-6th, 2012: program
PublisherCultural Studies Association of Australasia (CSAA)
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventCultural Studies Association of Australia: Materialities: Economies, Empiricism, & Things - University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 4 Dec 20126 Dec 2012


ConferenceCultural Studies Association of Australia


  • Materiality
  • Hand making
  • Textiles
  • Textual practice
  • Social media
  • Self-narration
  • Feminist politics


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