This project seeks to put material culture, craft, and community in conversation with the long-standing American mythology of self-sufficiency referenced not only in elite discourse by the founding statesmen of the United States but also in contemporary popular iterations of the “Green” and urban homesteading movements. Indeed, many of the individuals involved in these movements identify not only as artists but also as advocates of a form of social activism referred to as “craftivism” that explicitly links this American iconographic tradition of self-sufficiency to contemporary mandates for a politics of sustainability, particularly in urban life. Accordingly, I examine the ways in which urban craftivists are preserving and/or reintroducing traditional folkways ranging from subsistence farming to blacksmithing and welding, hand-sewing, knitting and crocheting, and film photography. Offering specific case studies related to these practices, I argue that practitioners of contemporary American craftivisms lean heavily on discourses of memory and tradition, as well as on the material practices and folkways associated therewith, but do so with the intention of creating a new world order that embraces both local and global perspectives as well as resources to support a politics of ethical production reconciling discourses of “tradition” and “sustainability” within the United States and abroad.


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pp. 303-320
Launched on MUSE
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