Interdisciplinary Research

Crafting Futures is developed by an interdisciplinary team from UAntwerpen and KU Leuven, in collaboration with the schools of art, KASK in Gent, Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp and Sint Lucas Antwerpen. This unique academic consortium brings together a broad range of expertise (ranging from pedagogy, critical heritage studies, anthropology, design sciences, cultural management, law, and history to art and design practice).

Co-creation and participation

Co-creation is key to the project. Partners are actively involved by means of working groups that provide information and documentation and give input and feedback on research results. Concretely, the project will set up three working groups that focus on crafts valuation, each relating to a particular craft ecosystem: maker spaces, formal education systems and policy-making. The working groups ensure that scientific knowledge and resulting outputs stay aligned with the needs of craft ecosystems and are appropriately translated into useful tools and instruments.

Practice-based research

The process of co-creation is leveraged by action research and research through design. To that end, the project also engages three artistic researchers, embedded in three different university colleges. As craft practitioners they will co-develop new tools and instruments in close interaction with scientific research, and devise projects, action-labs and interventions with a group of local stakeholders.

Actor-Network Theory and Controversy Mapping

From a theoretical perspective, the research will analyze crafts valuation using convention theories, which enable us to capture the ‘repertoires’ of valuation (criteria, discourses, tools, and common-sense ideas underlying the current appreciation of crafts). This is complemented by contemporary Actor-Network Theory, which allows us to investigate the different cultural, discursive, institutional, as well as technological and material complexities that come into play in concrete craft-based ecosystems. Among other methods, we will resort to Tommaso Venturini’s method of controversy mapping to unveil and disentangle hard-wired controversies and binaries that are hindering a future-proof valuation of crafts.