Preliminary Programme

Wed 12 April
    08.30 - 10.30
    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
    16.30 - 18.30

Thu 13 April
    08.30 - 10.30
    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
    16.30 - 18.30

Fri 14 April
    08.30 - 10.30
    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
    16.30 - 18.30

Sat 15 April
    08.30 - 10.30
    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00

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Saturday 15 April 2023 08.30 - 10.30
K-13 LAB23 Women as Textiles Producers in the Modern World
B44 (Z)
Networks: Labour , Women and Gender Chair: Elya Assayag
Organizer: Sheilagh Quaile Discussant: Sohee Ryuk
Dhriti Dhaundiyal, Surekha Dangwal : Gendered Identity in Community and Crafts of Himalayan Weavers
Historically, women have run the villages in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand in India, while men sought employment in the more industrialized nearby states, in the absence of local industry or commercial farming. Women have long been the backbone of the rural society and economy of Uttarakhand. They have also ... (Show more)
Historically, women have run the villages in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand in India, while men sought employment in the more industrialized nearby states, in the absence of local industry or commercial farming. Women have long been the backbone of the rural society and economy of Uttarakhand. They have also been the primary practitioners of crafts and builders of community in the hills. They have led environmental agitations like the Chipko movement and Khirakot to preserve their natural environment. Although some research has documented the role of women in Uttarakhand in the creation and sustenance of livelihoods in difficult geographies, no such research has been undertaken in the craft sector specifically, leaving a lacuna in our understanding of traditional socio-economic structures in the hills that have been sustained for many centuries. This paper looks at the gendered identities of the women weavers in the villages of Uttarakhand and how the practice of this craft has created expressions of gender identity in craft work and the community, at a local, stakeholder and village network level. We document case studies in the districts of Almora and Udham Singh Nagar in Uttarakhand using ethnographic methods. We traveled to these remote craft clusters and used narrative inquiry methods to gather data. Narrative inquiry helped us explore the lived experiences of these craftswomen, exploring their subjectivity and processes of sense-making. Narrative knowledge is produced through tales of lived experience and the meanings people accord to them. We gained deep insights into the construction of beliefs, notions, and community perceptions among them. We also theorize on the tension between the individual and the community and how gender is produced and reproduced in one and the other. (Show less)

Aisha Manus : Quilts of the Great War: Another Piece in the History of Female War Workers
Quilts are most often seen as pieces of folk art or as the objects of cultural heritage, rather than as the valuable historical pieces in histories unrelated to culture and art. By studying the quilters of World War I living in the Coastal South region and their relationship to the ... (Show more)
Quilts are most often seen as pieces of folk art or as the objects of cultural heritage, rather than as the valuable historical pieces in histories unrelated to culture and art. By studying the quilters of World War I living in the Coastal South region and their relationship to the various causes and efforts they represent on the Homefront, such as raising funds for the Red Cross, their place in soldiers' hospitals, and as aid to orphaned European children, it can be concluded that their quilts are a product of not just artists but of war workers too. The histories of women's war work are one often filled with the stories of women who joined the factories or replaced the streetcar drivers while the men went to war. Simultaneously, these histories leave out the work of the women who also contributed to the cause while remaining within their gendered norms, even when their work, such as quilts, serve as a tangible result of their work on the home front. Generally dismissed today as just a patriotic housewife volunteering her time, these workers were in actuality skilled laborers who filled the need for a product desperately needed by the governments of the United States and France. These women were war workers, and their work was just as vital as the war work of the women who left their spheres of influence and entered the man's world. Women may have been silenced by gender inequality, but through their work in quilts some found a different way to tell their stories. (Show less)

Sheilagh Quaile : Female Handloom Weavers in Nineteenth-Century Paisley, Scotland
“Many of the weavers’ wives were not behind their husbands in intelligence. They were more noted, however, for sound practical sense and good household management. None of them ever aspired to be poets or politicians... They seem to have thought that one genius in a family was enough. If John ... (Show more)
“Many of the weavers’ wives were not behind their husbands in intelligence. They were more noted, however, for sound practical sense and good household management. None of them ever aspired to be poets or politicians... They seem to have thought that one genius in a family was enough. If John was to busy himself with the affairs of the nation, Jeanie must attend to the affairs of the house. The younger women found ample employment in winding the yarn, in fringing and hemming the shawls, in preparing the details of the harness, and in tambouring.”

This quote is from Paisley yarn merchant Matthew Blair’s book, The Paisley Shawl and the Men Who Produced It (1904, p. 53) – a text that celebrates (male) Paisley weavers’ poetical and political cultures and their creative “genius” in weaving the famous Paisley shawls. Despite Blair’s dismissive view of nineteenth-century women’s professional and personal aspirations, census returns, newspaper articles, and technical school minutes reveal that female textile workers did aspire to genius – in this case, to the more prestigious (and gendered male) maker/creator role of weaving the textiles. So what, specifically, prevented women from participating in this aspect of the industry in greater numbers?

This paper will investigate Paisley women’s participation in weaving fancy textiles, and the reasons that men dominated the more prestigious occupation of weaving. As I will demonstrate, more women wove than has often been portrayed in histories of Paisley’s textile industries. My paper will address a neglected population in Scottish textile history as Paisley Museum and Art Galleries (PMAG) re-opens after a four-year, £42m renovation of its facilities in 2023. It is only fitting that as the PMAG emerges as an international-class attraction, women’s history as producers as well as consumers of Paisley’s fine handwoven textiles is fully acknowledged and celebrated. (Show less)



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