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Gender, Pottery Technology and Development Projects

Date : 2010-12-08 15:08:42

DescriptionIn this paper I will argue that the gendered nature of ceramic technology has been insufficiently taken into account in many development projects. The dominant ideology in studio pottery with its emphasis on wheel throwing and wood-fired kilns has often pervaded thinking among those people, many of them potters themselves, who are invited to advise on technological improvements or marketing of traditional pottery. I want first to address the general arguments and then to look in more detail at two case studies. Finally I will consider briefly some alternative models of pottery development. Historically and geographically pottery is a highly gendered activity. In most of Africa, among the indigenous peoples of the Americas and throughout large parts of South East Asia and the western pacific, pottery is traditionally a female occupation allied to very specific forms of ceramic technology using hand-building or non-wheel systems of potting. Firing is in open bonfires or sometimes in simple kilns. Such women's traditions continue to be very important in many parts of the world where there is still a need for functional pottery such as cooking pots, water storage jars and sometimes even roof tiles. As electricity and running water in houses become available the need for these products diminishes although the affection for them is often maintained. In some places these traditional techniques have successfully been mobilised to create a major new source of income by catering for a craft or collector's market. By far the best example of this is Pueblo pottery of New Mexico in the USA which underwent this transformation in the early twentieth century.

Name of InstitutionGender, Pottery Technology and Development Projects

Author(s) NameKristen Patin

Added/Updated byKristen Patin

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