From Resistance is Fruitful: A Day of Collective Production at Southern Exposure. Photo by Patricia Maloney; courtesy Southern Exposure.
Like thousands of others, I joined the Women’s March down Market Street. Amid the chill of the rain and the beat of the chants, what stood out was visual language: the hand-drawn signs, the sashes and puppets, and those pink hats. As these crafts have become early symbols of resistance, many people have pointed out their roots in long traditions of “craftivism,” from Gandhi’s spinning wheel to the textiles and prints at Standing Rock.
Within this moment of myriad transitions, the notion of craft itself is in flux. In factories and studios, automation and digital tools complicate how we view the act of making something “ourselves.” Beneath these conversations, however, is a history of intersections between craft and digital technology going back to the analytical engine, a precursor to modern computing adapted from the Jacquard loom. Parts of this history point to the power imbalances laid bare in moments of transition. In the 1960s, for example, Fairchild Semiconductor recruited Navajo women for low-wage work producing circuits; as Lisa Nakamura elucidated, viewing these women “through the lens of