'Hope Works Better When It’s Here': Crafting Agency, Living Power

Anthony T. McCann
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Shaped by the motto, “hope works better when it’s here,” this paper takes some of the central principles behind attempts to declare that “the personal is the political” and allies them to an exploration of key paradoxes of political and personal engagement. Moving beyond the concept of “craft” as a mere metaphor, then, various schools of thought related to “craft” and “crafting” are used as doorways to more helpful and appropriate understandings of the role of affect, power, and transformative participative agency in the social interactions of our lives.

In my doctoral dissertation (2002) I initiated an exploration of a new social psychological model of expectation around the concept of “negotiation”. For me, the term “negotiation” was used to refer to our dynamic, non-dichotomous, always-already (but dispositionally-variable) experience of uncertainty, social interaction, agency, and power. I sought to move on from certain of Foucault’s insights into power and power relations, for example, the constant, dynamic, ubiquitous and pervasive, constitutive and enabling experience of power and effects of power in the micropolitics of everyday life. I suggest that power can be more helpfully and specifically understood as the ability to vary the experience of affect (uncertainty) in either one’s own life or that of another. With this understanding of power, I argue, we can better understand the particularisms of effect and participation in relations of power.

Since then I have taken opportunities to study literature on the experiential practice and pedagogy of craft. On the basis of this work, I have replaced the rather abstract term “negotiation” with the more personally-engaging and active notions of “craft” and “crafting”. These two concepts are now the focus of an undualistic and unfoundational epistemological project in which I undertake to identify the key variables with which we negotiate creativity and agency in our everyday lives.

Keywords: Agency, Power, Politics, Craft, Art, Practice, Theory, Affect, Uncertainty
Stream: Constructing Art Worlds
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Anthony T. McCann

Lecturer in Contemporary Folk Culture, Academy of Irish Cultural Heritages, University of Ulster

Born in 1972, I come from Warrenpoint, County Down, in Northern Ireland. I have a fairly wide range of interests. Among the more specific official hats that I wear, or have worn, are: Irish language lecturer; ethnomusicologist; music journalist; Irish traditional music/culture specialist; music and copyright specialist; theorist of enclosure and the commons; theorist of hope and gentleness; theorist of culture and tradition; singer-songwriter; bodhrán player ... I currently live in Sheffield, England.

Ref: A06P0339