Book Chapter

Globalities & temporalities of artisanship: Lessons from an Indian wood art industry


Somewhere in your house you may have a small wooden box with a carved lid. Perhaps the box is adorned with some brass elephants or a carved floral pattern. It may have an ivory effect inlay made from fine plastic and be lined with velvet or felt. Chances are that the box comes from India, and if so the narrow gullies (lanes) of the woodworking mohallas (neighbourhoods) of the North Indian city of Saharanpur are quite possibly the origin. Drawing on Marxist and related understandings of craft, artisanship and labour, this chapter combines engagement with literature on craftwork, precarity, affect and temporality to think through change and continuity in Saharanpur’s Muslim dominated woodworking cluster (see also: Kaul, this volume). The chapter explores the increasing incorporation of the city’s artisanal traditions into global production networks, considers the ways in which production in the city intersects with globalised representations of ‘craft’, and – through an engagement with temporal contestations emanating from artisanal desires to exert a degree of control over work time – considers moments of contestation and resistance. In so doing, I argue that representations of ‘craft’ as entrepreneurial, artisanal and independent can act to conceal particularised modalities of exploitation. However, I also show that contemporary forms of structuring within craft sectors continue to contain moments of potentiality which emerge in relational, spatial and temporal contexts.

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Chambers, Thomas

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Social Sciences


Year of publication: Not yet published.
Date of RADAR deposit: 2019-08-06

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Related resources

This RADAR resource is Part of Creative economies of culture in South Asia: Craftspeople and performers / edited by Anna Morcom and Neelam Raina. (Routledge?) (ISBN: Not yet assigned.)


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