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‘Making’ labour in Mexican Artisanal workshops

Cant, A. (2018) ‘Making’ labour in Mexican Artisanal workshops. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 24 (S1). pp. 61-74. ISSN 1359-0987

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/1467-9655.12799


The anthropology of art and craft has been reinvigorated by new theoretical approaches to materiality, creativity, and skill. While this research has been connected to larger political economic processes such as nationalism, identity, and consumerism, these approaches have not been wholly brought to bear on questions of labour. Based on ethnographic research in San Martín Tilcajete, a woodcarving village in Oaxaca, Mexico, this essay shows how labour is made in artisanal workshops through the social and material relations that take place within them. I argue that rather than ownership of the means of production, in San Martín relations of labour are generated by the intermingling of the art world's ideology of ‘authorship’ with the intimate relations of kinship. The art market locates the production of value in the work of those who are recognized as authors, eliding the labour of many of the workers who produce the carvings. Labourers who work for family members struggle to establish themselves independently in this market because of the multiple and socially salient relations of obligation and respect that are central to kinship and because their own creative work becomes subsumed into the general style of the workshop where they are employed.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:86151


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