Artisanal Praxis and State Power

December 1–2, 2017

Artisanal production—particularly technocratic contributions that combined professional expertise with artistic ingenuity—was pressed into service of the state in Western Europe and across the globe. Not only did artisans participate in larger state building projects that extended well beyond the domestic sphere, but they likewise brought urban infrastructure to a number of burgeoning state powers and countries, and expanded the reach of what were considered minor arts to such endeavors like civil and military engineering. Despite this, artisans continue to be cast by architecture, art, and material culture scholars as historical actors whose immediate engagement lay solely in the domestic realm populated by decorative and intimate objects such as carved furniture and porcelain. Through our exploration of artisanal epistemologies in the age of encyclopedism, we aim to interrogate the notion of early modern artisans as anti-intellectual makers who trafficked in ongoing trade secrets. Our focus, instead, is the ways in which knowledge, expertise, and the value of artisanal praxis in the long eighteenth century was widely recognized and systematically exploited.

Program

In order of discussion


INTRODUCTION: ARTISANAL PRAXIS AND STATE POWER
Lauren Cannady and Jennifer Ferng
 
MAKING HISTORIES
Emine Fetvaci, Visualizing Urban Festivals in the Ottoman Empire: A Comparison of the 
Sixteenth and Eighteenth Centuries
 
Chandra Mukerji, Artisans of the Louvre and the Modern French State

ORNAMENT AND OBJECTS OF COLLABORATION
Frédéric Dassas, The Construction and Decoration of the Hôtel Le Bas de Montargis, Place Louis-le-Grand in Paris (1704–1707)
 
Lauren Cannady, Interregna: Time and the Société des Arts
 
TRANSLATION AND DISPERSAL
Neil Kamil, A Noble Artisan’s Fire Machine in the Age of Manufactures: Repetition, Family Secrets, and the Alchemy of Calamanco
 
Dennis Carr, The Middle Ground: Map-Making and Artisanal Production in Viceregal Mexico
 
INFRASTRUCTURE AND EXTRACTION
Jennifer Ferng, Outback’s Enlightenment: Mining Machines, Emu Eggs, and Mineral Capital
 
Sugata Ray, Arboreal Aesthetics in a Hindu Pilgrimage Town: Towards an Eco Art History of the Eighteenth Century
 
LABOR AND CORPOREALITY
Dorothy Ko, Fire Walk with Me: Tales of Artisanal Body (Parts) and Innovation in Early Modern China
 
Valérie Nègre, Craft Knowledge in the Age of Encylopedism
 

Participants Included

Lauren Cannady, Clark Art Institute (convener)
Dennis Carr, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Frédéric Dassas, Musée du Louvre
Jennifer Ferng, University of Sydney School of Architecture, Design, and Planning (convener)
Emine Fetvaci, Boston University
Neil Kamil, University of Texas
Dorothy Ko, Barnard College/Columbia University
Chandra Mukerji, UC-San Diego
Valérie Nègre, University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne
Sugata Ray, UC-Berkeley