Geographies of Making/Making Geographies

In March 2014, I’ll be heading to my first AAG Conference in Tampa. I’m running a session with my advisor Harriet Hawkins on ‘Geographies of Making’ with a panel session on ‘Revisiting Production’. I’m really looking forward to it. We’re hoping to carry on conversations at the RGS-IBG Conference 2014 in August, and happily joined by Robert Mackinnon from Aberystwyth and Dr Stephen Saville from Flowering Elbow who I met at the Mend*rs Conference in 2012. We’re doing something a little different at the RGS-IBG 2014 and have organised ‘guided workshops’ (because some questions can only be answered with making, skill and practice). These sessions are sponsored by the Social and Cultural Geography Research Group.

This abstract details the call for papers and workshop activities. The RGS-IBG Conference will take place at the Royal Geographical Society 26-29 August 2014.  The conference theme is ‘Co-production’ – which we hope our session will address in various ways. The deadline for expression of interest is 14 February 2014.

Geographies of Making/Making Geographies

The power and significance of creative material practices of ‘making’ has drawn increasing attention within and beyond geography (Sennett, 2008, Crawford, 2009, Charny, 2011, Institute of Making, UCL).  Whether this is a critical engagement with craft and vernacular creativities, artistic practices or the extensive range of making practices studied under the banner of the creative economy. Scholarship not only acknowledges the social, economic, political and cultural potentials of these practices, but also increasingly doing so by way of in-depth studies of the material, practiced and embodied dimensions of making. This represents, we argue, a requirement that we revisit and re-negotiate the spaces and practices of production, and that we interrogate the politics therein.

Geographical research on the creative economy alongside cultural-social geographies of arts and creative practices give us the foundation for these studies of the geographies of creative making and crafts whether this be explorations of creative cities, clusters or networks, the intersections of creativity and place or making in the home, the studio, or at the scale of the notebook (Scott 2002; Pratt 2008; Bain, 2009; Edensor et al. 2009; Brace and Putra-Jones, 2010; Rogers, 2011; Sjoholm, 2012; Harvey et al, 2013).  Alongside this research we find attention being turned to the multiple lives of things, reworking and extending biographies of objects via practices of, for example, mending, repairing, up-cycling or other ways of creatively re-working objects, including second-hand consumption practices (Gregson and Crewe, 2003; Gregson et al, 2012; De Silvey and Ryan, 2013).  Long recognising the place-making possibilities of such forms of creative making, we now find a growing attention to the productive force of these material, embodied and skilled practices (Hawkins, 2010; 2013, Paton, 2013).  This might concern thinking through the production of human subjects through their material relations with the world, or it might explore the broader social context of communities of makers and the growing appreciation that “making is connecting” (Gauntlett, 2011).

We seek to expand geographical engagements with making and explore and experience some of the ways that geographers can attend to the power of making. We are interested in both sustained research with, and participation in making and re-making practices and communities, but also wider theoretical reflections on the use of ‘making’ as a geographical tool to understand and conceptualize the world and to comprehend the social, cultural, political and material relationships therein.

We invite proposals for 20-minute papers on the themes below but by no means limited to them;

·      The taking/making place of creative making.

·      How communities of making are formed and held together (and dissipate)?

·      How can making make communities?

·      How are making identities formed through enthusiasms and skill?

·      Making as a force in the world, as an agent of social, cultural, political change/activism.

·      Methodological questions raised by studying creative making practices.

·      Making and theorisations of embodiment, affect, materiality, skill, habit, craftsmanship and improvisation.

·      Explorations of making and the visceral (making as therapy, feelings of joy, boredom, pain-staking, enchantment, comfort).

We wish to develop some aspects we hope will come out in the theoretically informed papers, by encouraging participants to make and remake tangible objects. This could take the form of guided making sessions and/or semi structured repair/hack/and modify workshops. We are looking for proposals for guided workshops that will ask and perhaps multiply questions through the hands (and other making tools). What small acts of creation can re-make our theoretical approaches?

We invite 20-minute workshops on the themes below but by no means limited to them:

·      A politics of becoming closer.

·      Making with objects and being in our creations.

·      How objects, especially tools, can make us in our acts of making.

·      Explorations of making and the visceral (making as therapy, feelings of joy, boredom, pain staking, enchantment, comfort).

·      Making as a force in the world, as an agent of social, cultural, political change/activism (upcycling/repair/craftvism).

·      Making and theorisations of embodiment, affect, materiality, skill, habit and improvisation.

·      Methodological questions raised by studying creative making practices.

Please send 250 word abstracts to all convenors by Friday 14th February 2014.

Laura Price (Laura.Price.2011@live.rhul.ac.uk), Dr Stephen Saville (Steve@floweringelbow.org) and Robert MacKinnon (rjm11@aber.ac.uk)

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