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Material moralities: Crafts, networks and family cosmology in Central Slovakia

Makovicky, NM; (2007) Material moralities: Crafts, networks and family cosmology in Central Slovakia. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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This thesis explores how the production, circulation and consumption of handmade lace is implicated in the creation of a moral economy of practice which is productive of culturally specific subjectivities. Fieldwork was undertaken in Banska Bystrica, Central Slovakia, and two villages in the surrounding hills. Spania Dolina and Stare Hory, where lace making has been a cottage industry since the 16th century. The ethnography of craftwork casts light on the wider relation between material culture, morality and praxis in post-socialist experience. The research suggests that there exists an * ethics of production* (following Foucault 1986, 1988, 1990, 1992) amongst lace makers and their clients in Central Slovakia, according to which individuals understand themselves as subjects, work upon themselves in a transformative way and pass judgement on the actions and intentions of others. Further more, by making use of Nancy Munn's (1977, 1986) notion of the qualisign. It is suggested that a particular moral aesthetic is reproduced through these judgements. This moral aesthetic posits the productive activity of the individual as having a visible and material outcome. By acting as the material manifestation of the social value of an individual's practice, lace artefacts and other forms of material culture become the props for speaking about the self and others. This study of craftwork in a post-socialist consumer society underlines the continuing importance of the notion of production in the creation of social value in Central Slovakia. In addition, it uncovers a continuous tension between the market economy to which lace makers are bound as producers and consumers, and the obligations of the moral economy to which they belong by virtue of kin and social relations. Finally, it shows how this tension is played out in relations between individuals and interest groups and how, by recasting issues of ethics into matters of aesthetic judgement, men and women in Slovakia are able to speak about matters of social and moral contention in a subterranean way.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Material moralities: Crafts, networks and family cosmology in Central Slovakia
Identifier: PQ ETD:593344
Language: English
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1446018
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