Summer Workshop on Lanna Weaving and Dyeing

Weaving Knowledge

Workshop dates: 6 – 23 July 2017

Co-convenors: Nussara Tiengkate, Pamela H. Smith, Annapurna Mamidipudi

Workshop webpages: http://iias.asia/masterclass/weaving-knowledge

This two week workshop aims to engage both the theory and practice of craft knowledge by teaching participants the Lanna techniques of weaving alongside expert weavers, at the same time engaging with the scholarly challenge of making embodied craft knowledge explicit. As the students are trained in crafts by practitioners in a weaving workshop near Chiang Mai, they will discuss concepts such as tacit expertise and technological literacy, pedagogy in sensory and material knowledge, innovation and sustainability in traditional technological cultures, with the practitioners, as well as invited scholars and activists in history, anthropology, and sociology from around the world. Set in the rural environment around Chiang Mai, this workshop will bring together three conveners: one historian of science and technology, one weaving/craft expert, and one scholar of development practice in craft, to guide the group of doctoral candidates in reflexive practice – both of weaving and writing.

Ten PhD students, whose scholarly work relates to these issues, will learn Lanna techniques of weaving in a workshop near Chiang Mai while living in a basic setting near the workshop. Activities include daily weaving practice, pre-loom preparation, dyeing, field trips to Wat Pah Daed, Yang Luang, Karen and Lua communities to observe their weaving practice, to village co-operatives, local markets and private textile museums, as well as academic sessions.

By requiring that students engage in learning weaving and dyeing, not as observers but as participants, and by re-instating craftspeople as experts and teachers, not just of the craft, but also in mobilizing knowledge about it, the workshop seeks both to invert the social and political hierarchy of knowledge that positions scholarly knowledge over craft, and to explore what craft knowledge can bring to academia, and to the larger societal challenge of sustainable development.  It will require sometimes strenuous physical labor as well as reflexive scholarly engagement by students.  It will require that students assume the role of apprentices as well as problem solvers and storytellers who, for example, use metaphors to capture how things look, sound or smell.  Focusing on these two different modes of thinking about and making knowledge -- the practice of weaving and scholarly work – will afford new possibilities to understand the nature of embodied knowledge.


Center for Science and Society, Columbia University; Chiang Mai University; International Institute for Asian Studies; the Dorothy Borg Research Program, Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University