Humanitarian Handicrafts

Testing the relationship between archival history and hands-on craft making


  • Rebecca Gill University of Huddersfield
  • Claire Barber University of Huddersfield
  • Bertrand Taithe University of Manchester


Emneord (Nøkkelord):

Interdisciplinary, embodied knowledge, humanitarianism, textiles


This paper asks how craft practice can inform historical reconsiderations of handicraft produced within a humanitarian socio-economic framework (to support humanitarian aims or fund-raising initiatives), and in turn explores how historical processes become materialised in contemporary humanitarian craftwork. By considering the possibilities for practice-based methods, this paper proposes the utility of involvement in craft-making processes for historians of humanitarianism. At the same time, this gives rise to a multiplicity of concerns for a contemporary craft practitioner undertaking a form of creative expression identifiable by its humanitarian purpose. It is therefore a helpful corrective to the temptation to think that experiments are innovations. Looking at early attempts in history we see a practice mirrored, not in the results, but in the process of working in a humanitarian mode of craft-based practice.


Rebecca Gill, University of Huddersfield


Claire Barber , University of Huddersfield


Bertrand Taithe , University of Manchester



Arantes, L. (2020). Unravelling Knitting: Form Creation, Relationality, and the Temporality of Materials. Journal of American Folklore, 133(528), 193-204.

Auslander, L. & (2018). Objects of War: The Material Culture of Conflict and Displacement. Cornell University Press.

Baughan, E., Davey, E., Everill, B., O’Sullivan, K., & Sasson, T. (2018). History and Humanitarianism: A Conversation. Past and Present, 241, e1 – e38.

De Botton, A., & Armstrong, J. (2015). Art as Therapy. Phaidon Press.

Fassin, D. (2011). Humanitarian Reason: A Moral History of the Present. University of California Press.

Hill, J. (2012). Sense and Sensibility. In Jessica Hemmings (Ed.), The Textile Reader (pp. 37 – 43). Berg.

Ingold, T. (2009). On Weaving a Basket. In F. Candlin & R. Guins (Eds.), The Object Reader (pp. 339 – 348). Routledge.

Lester, A. (2014). Colonization and the Origins of Humanitarian Governance. Cambridge University Press.

Malkki, L. (2015). The Need to Help: The Domestic Arts of International Humanitarianism. Duke University Press.

Moallem, M. (2018). Persian Carpets: The Nation as a Transnational Commodity. Routledge.

Ni En More.

Parker, R. (2012). The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine. I.B.Tauris.

Steedman, S. (1998). What a rag rug means. Journal of Material Culture, 3(3), 259-281.




Hvordan referere

Gill, R., Barber , C., & Taithe , B. . (2021). Humanitarian Handicrafts: Testing the relationship between archival history and hands-on craft making . FormAkademisk, 14(2).

Cited by