Between Tradition and Tourism: Artisans Negotiating the Gap

Dr. Melanie Gail Davenport
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This paper is one of three case studies conducted for a larger comparative research project examining how artists/artisans in less technologically complex societies negotiate the space between tradition and tourism, to bring their work to a larger market and reap economic benefits while keeping intact at least some aspect of the local tradition. This paper focuses upon a Zapotec weaver from Oaxaca, Mexico, living in a "craft village" known for specializing in certain type of artisanry. The other two case studies focus upon a woodcarver in Bali and a ceramist in Ghana, who work under similar conditions and have developed distinct strategies for marketing their work in the tourist economy.

Some of the issues underlying this study include: the role of formal and non-formal education in the transmission and adaptation of "traditional" forms of artisanry; how adaptations in one aspect of traditional artisanry (for example, using new types of equipment, or cheaper industrial dyes, or more marketable designs or shapes) may impact other significant (unique) aspects of that practice; the incentives to change versus incentives to maintain traditional forms; as well as the role played by non-governmental organizations, alternative trade organizations, private sector importers, individual collectors, individual entrepreneurship, or community connections in an artisans' financial success.

This study is focused on issues of significance to educators in the visual arts but may have relevance in other fields as well. Educators in the arts must attend to the impact of tourism on artforms that they introduce to students and both recognize and communicate to others that living cultures are always adapting to changing social, political, economic, geographic, climatic conditions.

Keywords: Tourism, Craft, Artisanry, Art Education
Stream: Art in Communities, Arts Education
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr. Melanie Gail Davenport

Assistant Professor of Art Education, Department of Art Education
School of Visual Arts, Theatre, and Dance, Florida State University

Tallahassee, Florida, USA

Ref: A06P0405