The School of Anthropology and Conservation will be holding a cross-University, cross-disciplinary workshop on 6-7 May, 2016, entitled Rethinking Skill: New Ethnographic Perspectives on Expertise. As learned abilities, individual and collective skills are fundamental to the pursuit of life and livelihoods. This is a timely subject as skills are becoming more highly specialised and of interest to non-academics. Yet the ethnographic literature on skills has tended to focus more heavily upon the tactile dimensions of manual labour and artisanship and less on the intellectual and cognitive capacities that are integral to all forms of skilled work, be they manual, managerial or entrepreneurial, or on the relationships between different forms of knowledge and know-how.
An ethnographic approach to the topic is germane since the methodology entails close participation and often apprenticeship on the part of the researcher, which affords valuable intellectual and sensorial experiences. Such a method, furthermore, produces locally embedded styles of analysis that engage carefully with the political economic lives of research participants.
The workshop will bring together a group of ethnographic researchers whose focus upon a diverse range of skilled work will generate a more comprehensive understanding of expertise. The workshop programme will interrogate the distinction between the categories of ‘skilled’ and ‘highly-skilled’ by investigating the ways in which these forms of work are mastered, shared, transformed and experienced. It will also reconsider the compartmentalising of skills into the binary categories of industrial and post-industrial and artistic and technical (Ingold, 2011). Lastly, by reconsidering the ways in which we approach and write about work, the organisers hope to emphasise an embodied, multi-cognitive-sensorial understanding and analysis of skill.
- Professor Dominic Boyer (Rice University)
- Dr Alanna Cant (University of Oslo)
- Professor Kevin Dawe (School of Music and Fine Art, University of Kent)
- Professor Kathryn Dudley (Yale University)
- Professor Cristina Grasseni (Utrecht University)
- Professor Douglas Holmes (Binghamton University)
- Dr Dawn Lyon (School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, University of Kent)
- Dr Daniela Peluso (School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent)
- Dr Andrew Sanchez (School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent)
- Professor Tim Strangleman (School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, University of Kent)
- Dr Freya Vass-Rhee (School of Arts, University of Kent)
- Dr Soumhya Venkatesan (University of Manchester)
For more information please contact Dr Daniela Peluso or Dr Andrew Sanchez.
The workshop is part of the Rethinking Skill: New Ethnographic Perspectives on Expertise research project funded by the Faculty of Social Sciences Research Fund, 2015-2016. Dr Daniela Peluso and Dr Andrew Sanchez are the Principal Investigators and the project is in collaboration with the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, Kent Business School and the School of Music and Fine Arts.
Main image by Andrew Sanchez.