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Accounting for Craft in Development

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Accounting for Craft in Development: Artisan Enterprise and Partners in Trade

Jongeward, Carolyn

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Craft production, once the backbone of local cultures in rural areas was also an important component of trade relations across vast distances. There have been links between craft production and trade for millennia. India, for example, exported large quantities of finely woven and embroidered textiles as early as the 1st century A.D. on overland and maritime routes that linked India with China, Mesopotamia and Rome (Calico Museum of Textiles, 1998). At present the world’s artisans are among the vast numbers of rural poor agriculturalists who have been tragically left behind in the pursuit of global economic development. Simultaneously, in recent years there has been a surge of activity that links rural artisans with new marketplaces through the work of NGOs, commercial enterprises and international partner organizations, with aims to create sustainable livelihoods and preserve cultural skills, knowledge and identity. As a result, craft production is increasingly relevant to discussions of sustainable human development, women’s empowerment, culture and development, and trade justice. In this paper I examine the following questions: What is the significance of craft to development? What kinds of initiatives and interventions can improve artisan livelihoods? What is the evidence of impact of initiatives and interventions in the craft sector? This paper is based on my current research into issues of sustainable artisan livelihoods, in particular among weavers and e...

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