Mary A. Littrell and Judy Frater
Artisan participation in the global fashion industry engenders debate. Ashoke Chatterjee (2007), an internationally respected leader for craft development in India, observes that Indian politicians and international development leaders question whether craft sector employment is a “fringe, feel-‐good activity unrelated to power and economic vitality” (12). In response, Chatterjee warns that “crafts offer India the only sustainable answer to its need of job opportunities for a population that has crossed one billion”(12).
Long-‐time craft administrators, Maureen Liebl and Tirkander Roy, express concern about the potential for global appropriation of intellectual property held in artisan industries—enterprises that draw upon deeply enmeshed cultural knowledge and production creativity (Liebl and Roy 2004; Liebl 2005). In order to meet the demands of the constantly changing global fashion market, designers often borrow from the Indian textile design traditions of a particular region or ethnicity, and then de-‐ethnicize and exploit the traditions. Yet, as artisans lose their local markets for handcrafts to machine produced and cheaper alternatives, income generation through participation in the global fashion market may serve as a critical precursor to cultural asset protection and continued evolution (Liebl and Roy 2004).
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) provide yet another perspective. NGO leaders argue that participation in artisan enterprise holds potential for human capability development as catalyst for change. Robert Ch...
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