Sustaining Crafts and Livelihoods

Livelihoods, Sustainability, Sustainable Devt.

Sustaining Crafts and Livelihoods: Handmade in India

Wood, Sharmila

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Over the last century, industrial production has steadily replaced traditional handmade production in countries around the world. In India, this has meant the loss of traditional markets for artisans and craftspeople, who struggle to compete against the economic and production efficiencies of volume manufacturing, ushered in by advanced technology, and mechanization. However, in recent times, new markets have emerged, particularly amongst urban consumers, who have ascribed craft, and the handmade, with ethical, environmental, and socio-cultural value. Indian artisans are well positioned to tap into this emerging market, as consumers develop more of an understanding about the externalized environmental and social costs of a product, as it moves from extraction to production, to distribution, to consumption, and disposal. As the link between consumption, and resource depletion, industrial production and environmental degradation, enter the mainstream discourse, craft provides a framework for explorations of how ethical, sustainable and environmental principles are manifested in, and through, particular materials, processes, and objects. The term, ‘conscious consumption’ is used to describe this ethically driven consumer movement, where shopping is conducted in a critical or analytical way.1 Jatin Bhatt in Philosophy and Practice of Crafts and Design, argues that not only do handcrafted objects f...
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