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Posts from the ‘Pottery’ Category

It is Time to Check Out The Michiana Potters: Art, Community, and Collaboration in the Midwest

Hi everyone. Some of you already know that The Michiana Potters: Art, Community, and Collaboration in the Midwest by Meredith A. E. McGriff came out recently from Indiana University Press. It’s great. You should read it asap. This is an exciting milestone not only for Meredith and her collaborators, but also for the Material Vernaculars book series that I edit for the IU Press. The Michiana Potters is the sixth title in the series. I am really happy about the work that the series is doing and I really appreciate both the IU Press and everyone who has supported the series as readers, reviewers, authors, and especially purchasers.

Why do a single out purchasers? Well, as I have noted previously, the MV series is an unusual experiment in scholarly publishing. Because those of us involved in the series want to make sure that potential readers are not hindered from reading series titles because of lack of library access or the inability to purchase the book, MV titles are offered for sale in beautiful print editions and also offered in free-to-readers editions online. When you choose to purchase one of those beautiful print books (or a commercial ebook edition), you are helping subsidize the digital free-to-readers edition. The granddaughter of one of the potters profiled in Meredith’s book, for instance, can click here and get access to the book and carry it around on her phone, show it to her art teacher, and use it for a class project. When someone who can afford to buy the book–a pottery collector getting excited about Michiana ceramics or a professor working in material culture studies, to give two obvious examples–buys the book, they are helping fund the production of the book so that others can also read and enjoy and learn from it. In fields such a folklore studies and cultural anthropology, maximizing access, especially for members of those communities from which we learn, is a crucial ethical consideration.

I have basically told this same story every time an MV title has appeared. The good news is that the system seems to be working. I hope that you will keep it working by purchasing Meredith’s fine book if you can.

As I will describe below, things are actually more complicated than I have evoked above. It is not actually the case that a book is either in print form or in the free digital form. There are other versions in the world too. Some of you can help the cause by using those other versions. I will now reveal some of these other ways.

First, the buyers. You can get a handsome paperback or hardback version of The Michiana Potters from a wide range of booksellers. The IU Press links to some of them on its webpage for the book. Pretty much any brick and mortar or online bookseller should be able to get it for you. If you are an ebook reader, you can also get an ebook edition from the usual sources of ebooks. So, book buyers, get busy. Thank you for making the series possible.

If you need or want to check out the free-to-readers edition of The Michiana Potters, it is now posted to the MV section of the IUScholarWorks repository. You can find its repository page here. If you know someone who really needs to read this or another MV title, please help them find this page. The series page with all six books in IUScholarWorks is here.

Now, lets get fancy. If you teach at a university or college and you wanted to assign The Michiana Potters or another MV title to your students, you can probably do this in a way that saves them money while also contributing financially to the work of the IU Press as the series publisher. “How can that be?” you ask. Well, series titles are also published as part of services that are relatively common in college and university libraries. One colleague of mine, for example, is teaching the inaugural series volume Material Vernaculars: Objects, Images, and Their Social Worlds this fall. Students in that colleague’s class will be reading the book via a JSTOR, a key service making journal and book content available on in university and college libraries. Other libraries have purchased eBook access using other services. For professors and students, your university library may or may not have purchased any one MV title in this form, but some have and more could. Usually all you need to do is look it up in your college or university library catalog.

So, if you are a university person, you can use a JSTOR or a university library ebook version for yourself or for your students. When you do, you are contributing, just by that use, to supporting the publishing work of IU Press, including the MV series. If you can do so, please use such library provisioned versions. They save your students money but they still help support the press. Doing so is better than pointing your students to the IUScholarWorks version. But, if you cannot arrange other access for your students or yourself, go ahead, of course, and use the Free-to-Readers version. That is what it is there for.

You can find The Michiana Potters in JSTOR here: https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctv14npjxm

One source that I would really like to discourage you from using are the ever growing number of dubious file sharing sites. There really is no justification for getting The Michiana Potter from a Russian hacker when the IU Press and the IU Scholarly Communications Department, both at the IU Libraries, have worked to share a safe and easy version with you.

Happy reading to everyone! Congratulations to Meredith!

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The IU Press flyer promoting The Michiana Potters.

 

A Cooperative Craft Survey in Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, Part 1

A note on photographs. Here just a few photographs from the first day of our May 2019 travel in Yunnan are presented. It will take time to work through all of the images that were made during the travels described in this post. When a fuller report is ready, the team will share additional images.

In May, after the conclusion of the Seventh Forum on China-US Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage (where our focus was Collaborative Work in Museum Folklore and Heritage¬†Studies), I was part of a group of American museum folklorists who traveled to the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture in China’s Yunnan Province. A spin-off project from the China-US Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage Project, our group was very generously hosted by the Institute of National Culture Research at Dali University in the city of Dali (Figures 1-2). Together with members of the Institute’s faculty, we traveled throughout the prefecture meeting Bai craftspeople working in a range of material forms. From them, we learned about their craft disciplines and about their experiences participating in formal intangible cultural heritage initiatives. This opportunity to learn from talented makers in Yunnan offered a wonderful comparative experience, pointing to commonalities and differences with northern Guangxi, where our group has been pursuing collaborative studies with partners from the Anthropology Museum of Guangxi, the Nandan Baiku Yao Ecomuseum and the Sanjiang Dong Ecomuseum.

Institute of National Culture Research Discussion Photograph (Size Reduced)

Figure 1. Dr. CUN Yunji, leader of the Institute of National Culture Research at Dali University, hosts a discussion on heritage research. Participating were faculty, researchers, and students from the Institute and visitors from the three participating institutions in the United States (Michigan State University Museum, Museum of International Folk Art, and the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, Indiana University. May 23, 2019. Photograph courtesy of the Institute of National Culture Research.

A full account of the Dali-area craft survey is in preparation and I am hopeful that we can share it later. Here my aim is to thank our very generous hosts and interlocutors.

Dali University Institute of National Culture Research Group Photograph (Size Reduced)

Figure 2. Members of the Institute of National Culture Research, Dali University together with the visiting team from the United States. May 23, 2019. Photograph courtesy of the Institute of National Culture Research.

During our time in the Bai region, our bi-national team visited with a silversmith, a wood carver, a ceramicist, an embroiderer who also makes elaborate fabric figures and miniature dioramas on ethnographic topics, two tie-dye artists, and two basket makers. In each case, these craftspeople maintained active studios and most guided the work of many students, apprentices, and junior colleagues. Nearly all were recognized as masters on some formal level (national, prefectural, county, etc.) within China’s system of intangible cultural heritage recognition, promotion, and safeguarding. We also attended a key calendrical festival of regional importance and visited the Three Pagodas of the Chongsheng Temple near (old) Dali (Figures 3-5). While old Dali was our home base, we traveled to many towns and villages and spent one night in old Shaxi. We enjoyed traveling with our colleagues from Dali University and holding discussions with them on areas of shared research interest while visiting the university’s beautiful campus. Many layers of cultural history are evident when traveling in the Dali area. Long favorited by international and Chinese tourists, Dali and the whole region has an elaborate tourism economy and infrastructure, reflective of dramatic and constant change within the period of China’s “opening up” (see for instance, the research of Beth Notar). As throughout the country, one can also see Dali-specific evidence of older historical eras, from the time of the cultural revolution to the republican and imperial eras. In this region, particular emphasis is given (at present) to long-distance trade on the Tea Horse Road. Intercultural connectedness is a theme in tourism and historical consciousness that draws on the story of trade routes, the region’s religious complexity, and its distinctive place in the region’s long history.

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Figure 3. Erhai Lake and the Dali Basin as seen from the Dali University campus near Dali (Old Town). May 23, 2019. Photograph by C. Kurt Dewhurst.

I record here our deep appreciation for our generous and knowledgeable colleagues at Dali University and in Yunnan more broadly. Many friends in the Chinese folklore studies community assisted us making this journey. We look forward to sharing the fuller story of this trip and to thanking our partners by name in a more formal report. Special thanks go, of course, to the craftspeople who opened their studios, workshops, and homes to our team of Chinese and American scholars.

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Figure 4. A view of The Three Pagodas and the Cang Mountains. May 23, 2019. Photograph by Jason Baird Jackson.

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Figure 5. A small glimpse of the very large Chongshen Temple and Monastery complex near (old) Dali.  May 23, 2019. Photograph by Carrie Hertz.

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