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Everyday Textures: Practices of Needlework, Meaning-Making and Socio-Political Transformation

May, Katja (2020) Everyday Textures: Practices of Needlework, Meaning-Making and Socio-Political Transformation. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:80629)

Language: English

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Everyday Textures: Practices of Needlework, Meaning-Making and Socio-Political Transformation examines practices of needlework, specifically quilting, dressmaking, embroidery and knitting, and their narrative representations in the context of transnational feminist solidarity. This reseach is situated alongside a body of scholarly and popular discourses that have placed needlework and feminism either in direct opposition to each other or have heralded the generative connections between the two. By conceptualizing needlework as affective social practices of meaning-making, that is, as routine activities invested with emotion and entangled with concrete material and social conditions, I offer a generative framework for moving beyond such polarizing discourses. Using an inventive methods approach that includes interviews with makers as well as close readings of literary texts and the anlysis of textile artefacts, this thesis explores what types of political acts the everyday performance of needlework and its narrative renderings make possible.

The sample of case studies is necessarily diverse because neither the everyday nor practices of needlework can be neatly fitted into disciplinary or methodological boundaries as they bridge that which is ordinary but also exceptional, forms of repetition, moments of disorientation and breakdown as well as potentiality. I critically engage with a number of text(ure)s: from the novels by African-American women writers, to the works of the US based youth organization the Social Justice Sewing Academy and the Afghan‒European embroidery initiative Guldusi, to the Pussyhat Project and the Women's March on Washington. Through this attention to texture on the level of everyday affective social practices of creative making, I follow different trajectories of meaning-making across the textured web of everyday feminist life lines. I argue that practices of needlework and their narrative representations make possible a politics of embodied orientation because they may move people physically and affectively towards new everyday imaginaries of social transformation. In addition, I show how practices of needlework allow for a dwelling in the potentiality of futurity and for a reconfiguration of relations based on the recognition of unequal flows of power and our affective attachments to them.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Bolaki, Stella
Thesis advisor: Pedwell, Carolyn
Uncontrolled keywords: needlework, texture, affect, feminist solidarity
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of English
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2020 10:10 UTC
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2020 11:02 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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