The main goal is to rethink the value of crafts in society. A thorough and critical analysis of the current repertoires of evaluation and validation of crafts skills and knowledge will allow us to understand better which underlying paradigms, conventions or black boxes are hindering the future potential of crafts ecosystems. From there the project will start to revise and transform them through practice-based research and in close collaboration with partners.

Scientific Goals

The research project starts from the observation that the current limitations in valuing crafts are based on the fact that craftership and crafts knowledge and knowhow are poorly defined, contested and conflated, depending on which craft ecosystem is involved (market, policy, legal, education, maker context). The valuation of craft is typically based on persistent paradigms and binaries of modernity, that oppose embodied knowledge to theory, technological innovation to tradition, craftership to the creative arts, cultural heritage to creative industry. This devaluates (traditional) hand-based skills and material practices in favour of intellectual labour, and it forms the ground for myriad ‘controversies’.

Using Actor-Network Theory, Convention Theory and Controversy Mapping we will advance the status quo of craft research by performing a rigorous and critical analysis of dichotomies and black boxes underlying current modes and mechanisms of crafts valuation. This will lay the ground for new ways of evaluation and assessing craft knowledge and knowhow and for innovative and interdisciplinary forms of scholarly research on crafts resonating with current post-material, posthuman and pluriversal worldviews.

Societal Goals

The scientific knowledge produced will be translated into a set of utilisation products intended to meet the needs of the stakeholders with whom the project was designed.

New training formats and business models will support craftspeople in making their businesses profitable and sustainable. Relatedly, new instruments for the assessment, validation and certification of crafts knowledge on both the market and in educational institutions will facilitate craftspeople’s access to labour and product markets.

The latter will also be fostered by policy guidance for the formal educational sector, and for urban policy makers in relation to hybrid craft spaces such as maker spaces. Recommendations for legal and institutional transformations will help to build a more coordinated and supportive legal policy framework at different levels. Finally, recommendations for a crafts council in Flanders will allow the sector to be better represented and supported and more easily able to advocate for its needs.