Fiber arts and generative justice

  • Sarah Kuhn University of Massachusetts Lowell
Palabras clave: Activismo textil, culturas indígenas, creación, mutualismo, reparación


The fiber arts, because they are practiced in different forms around the globe, have the potential to teach us much about generative justice that unites labor, ecological, and expressive values. The ecological mutualism documented in Navajo corrals supports traditional weaving, dyeing, food, and medicinal practices in a sustainable and generative cycle that survives despite disruption and exploitation. The network of fiber craftspeople, retailers, ranchers, teachers, spinners, and dyers and their organizations supports the social mutualism of fiber communities. Fiber arts practices can benefit individuals, communities, the environment, and public health, among other things. Conscious fiber activism and critical making can also be used to explicitly draw attention to problems such as overconsumption, waste, industrial “fast fashion,” labor exploitation, environmental degradation, toxic risks, intolerance, and the devaluing of women and their work. Fiber arts have the potential to support environmental and social mutualism and catalyze a new aesthetic of long-term attachment to meaningful objects and communities, reinforcing the creation and conservation of expressive, ecological, and labor value.



La información sobre descargas todavía no está disponible.

Biografía del autor/a

Sarah Kuhn, University of Massachusetts Lowell
Professor, Department of Psychology
Director, Technology, Society, & Human Values Program
Faculty Associate, Center for Women and Work


Andrade, J. (2010). What Does Doodling Do? Applied Cognitive Psychology 24, 100–106.

Beardsley, J. (2002). River Island. In J. Beardsley, The Quilts of Gee's Bend. Tinwood Books.

Begay, D. Y. (1996). Shi’ Sha’ Hane’ (My Story). In E. H. Bonar (Ed.), Woven by the Grandmothers: Nineteenth-Century Navajo Textiles from the National Museum of the American Indian. Smithsonian Institution Press.

Bellingham Repair Café (n.d). Retrieved from

Bonar, E. H. (1996). Woven by the Grandmothers: Nineteenth-Century Navajo Textiles from the National Museum of the American Indian. Smithsonian Institution Press.

Callahan, N. (2008) Freedom Quilting Bee. Encyclopedia of Alabama. Retrieved from

Chapman, J. (2015). Emotionally durable design: objects, experiences and empathy. Routledge.

Corkhill, B. (2008). Stitchlinks--Guide to our Theories So Far. Retrieved from

Demetrios, E. (2001). An Eames Primer. Thames & Hudson.

DeMotts, R. (2008). Mitigating an elephantine epidemic: gendered space for HIV/AIDS outreach through Namibian conservancies. Population and Environment, 29(3-5), 186-203.

Global Fashion Industry Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Eglash, R., & Garvey, C. (2014). Basins of attraction for generative justice. In Chaos Theory in Politics (pp. 75-88). Germany: Springer Science.

Frauenfelder, M. (2010). Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World. Penguin Group.

Gopnik, B. (2009, March 3.). At Freer, Aesthetic is Simply Smashing. The Washington Post.

Greer, B. (2007). Craftivism. In G. L. Anderson & K. G. Herr (Eds.), Encyclopedia of activism and social justice. New York, NY: Sage Publications. (Quoted on Greer’s web site at

Knitting Nannas charged in NSW coal-seam gas protest. (2016, January 17). The Guardian. Retrieved from

Haraway, D. J. (1997). Modest−Witness@ Second−Millennium. FemaleMan−Meets−OncoMouse: Feminism and Technoscience. Psychology Press.

Idachaba, A. (2015) TED talk. Retrieved from

Kwan, P. Y. (2012). Exploring Japanese Art and Aesthetic as Inspiration for Emotionally Durable Design. Paper presented at DesignEd Asia. Retrieved from

Levi-Strauss, C. (1962). The Savage Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago.

M'Closkey, K. A. (2014). Navajo (Diné) Weavers and Globalization: Critiquing the Silences. Textile Society of America Symposium Proceedings. Retrieved from

Mauss, M. (1954/2011). The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies. Martino Publishing.

National NeedleArts Association. (2013). The State of Specialty NeedleArts. Retrieved from

Novogratz, J. (2013). The Blue Sweater. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

Parten, M. B. (1933) Social Play among Preschool Children. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 28(2), 136-47.

Quilt Study Center. (n.d.) The Smithsonian Quilt Controversy. Retrieved from

Ratto, M. (2011). Critical making: Conceptual and material studies in technology and social life. The Information Society, 27(4), 252-260.

Ratto, M., & Boler, M. (2014). DIY citizenship: Critical making and social media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Stravinsky, I. (1970) Poetics of Music. Harvard: Harvard University Press. (original edition 1942).

Taimina, D. (2009). Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes. A K Peters/CRC Press.

Walters, H. (1996). The Navajo Concept of Art. In Bonar, E. H. (Ed.), Woven by the Grandmothers: Nineteenth-Century Navajo Textiles from the National Museum of the American Indian. Smithsonian Institution Press.

Wollan, M. (2011, May 18). Graffiti’s Cozy, Feminine Side. The New York Times. Retrieved from