Bildtext får vara max två rader text. Hela texten ska högerjusteras om den bara ska innehålla fotobyline! Photo: B. Christensen/Azote
How craftsmanship connects people, nature and knowledge
- Researchers argue that craftsmanship facilitates a unique connection between people with nature.
- They shed light on the interdependencies and intimate connections between knowledge, people and nature
- Their study revealed three ways in which craftsmanship forges a particular type of connection between people and nature
What we can learn from a Samí crafts artist and a fisher from Stockholm about connections between local ecological knowledge, work, technology and sustainability
A PARTICULAR TYPE OF CONNECTION: In an increasingly globalized and technologically driven world, many become disconnected to the natural habitat on which they depend.
In a study published in Society & Natural Resources, centre researcher Wijnand Boonstra and former SRC colleague Viveca Mellegård argue that craftsmanship facilitates a unique connection between people with nature.
Through observation of a Samí duojar, or crafts artist, and a fisher in the Stockholm Archipelago the authors seek to reveal the tacit and embodied knowledge of local natural resource users.
In doing so, they shed light on the interdependencies and intimate connections between knowledge, people and nature.
Sensory experience induces a profound appreciation for the function of natural environments and their meaning for wellbeing.
Viveca Mellegård, lead author
Three ways to connect
Mellegård and Boonstra accompanied the fisher on several trips and observed how the duojar fashioned a pair of boots from reindeer skin. The researchers took pictures to capture and understand the daily routines of their respondents.
Their study revealed three ways in which craftsmanship forges a particular type of connection between people and nature:
- Embodied skill: a form of intimacy or familiarity with materials and nature that is aimed to accomplish work. The duojár and fisher know nature through their work for which they experience nature through their senses.
- Work with tools that afford the use of skill: craftsmanship is enabled through tools that require skill, but can be repaired and maintained.
- Co-production: a mutual dependency between people and nature which can counters experiences of disconnection or alienation. The duojar points for example to the importance of honoring the animal by making sure all materials are use, while the fisher will feed seagulls or chicken with fish leftovers.
Craftsmanship can facilitate sustainable development
The authors believe there are reasons to assume that craftsmanship can facilitate sustainable development:
“Sensory experience induces a profound appreciation for the function of natural environments and their meaning for wellbeing,” says Viveca Mellegård.
Skill, knowledge, and experience also encourage repurposing and reconfiguration of materials and products, which may lead to more sustainable consumption and less-intensive resource use.
Adds Boonstra: “The lens of craftsmanship reverses our perspective on the relationship between people and nature. Rather than humans dictating the use of natural resources, it is nature which sets terms and conditions that the local users agree to through their craftsmanship.”
The main method used by the authors here is visual methodology which includes participatory observation, interviewing and photographing. The first author shot approximately 2000 digital photographs and video clips for both cases. A range of wideshots were used to capture the craftsperson in context. Close-ups were also used to capture details such as the positioning of fingers, eyes fixed on a point in the distance, or how tools are employed. A selection of photographs was then made for the photo elicitation using several criteria, including the ability of the photograph to expose the knowledge and skills involved in the craft and how they had been acquired, and its ability to enhance the author’s understanding of the social and ecological contexts and history.
Semi-structured interviews using the selected photos and notes made from participant observation were then performed with the duojár and the fisher as well as with other people closely connected to or involved in craft practices, such as family members. The interviews were then coded using an inductive approach to see if patterns emerged about components of craftsmanship. More refined coding followed in a second cycle where coded material was related to and contrasted with definition of tacit knowledge and skill from scientific literature.
Mellegård, V., Boonstra, W. 2020. Craftsmanship as a Carrier of Indigenous and Local Ecological Knowledge: Photographic Insights from Sámi Duodji and Archipelago Fishing. Society & Natural Resources, DOI: 10.1080/08941920.2020.1729911
For more information about the article, please contact Wijnand Boonstra:
Research news | 2021-07-03
Groundbreaking book on methods to study social-ecological systems
Open-access book covers 28 broad groups of methods, featuring contributions from almost a hundred authors in 16 countries
Research news | 2021-06-23
Better scenario building can help curb global threat of invasive species
Invasive species remain largely ignored in current future analyses. Experts present first set ever of alternative futures for global biological invasions
Research news | 2021-06-22
New software helps design sustainable cities
Natural Capital Project have developed a software that shows city planners where to invest in nature to improve people’s lives. It will also save billions of dollars
Research news | 2021-06-21
Proximity to green boosts building projects
Proximity to ecosystem services raises the value of residential and commercial areas around cities. Future projects should focus more to keep it that way
Research news | 2021-06-18
How much is the right amount of meat?
Celebrating World Sustainable Gastronomy Day, centre doctoral student Kajsa Resare Sahlin on why we need to better understand how much ‘less’ meat actually is and what ‘better’ means
Research news | 2021-06-18
The accidental chef
How a former PhD student’s book on food and life in the Pamir Mountains won the world’s most prestigious culinary book award