With the cumulative impacts of the changing climate, the ongoing pandemic, and tense geopolitical circumstances impacting all aspects of life, self-sufficiency and local resilience are all increasingly vital. In this context, human and environmental survival will partly depend on nation states to act together, but also on people’s skilful capacity to care and repair – individually and collectively.
What kinds of (paid and unpaid) work are genuinely needed for the future, and what sorts of skills would this require? Is there a disconnect between the types of work and training available, and the types of skills and capacities that will be needed in the future?
Contributions are invited that relate to, but need not be constricted by, the following themes:
The labour of care and repair
How can we reframe or further develop understandings of care labour and repair labour as we move into this era of social and environmental instability? What kinds of realignments and revaluations must take place to support labour in these contexts, and what conditions are needed to effect this kind of change? How might we differently educate and train younger generations in order to encourage, develop and facilitate skills and dispositions related to care and repair? How do design practices and knowledge sets interact with care labour and repair labour? What alternative models might there be for fairly remunerating care labour and repair labour?
And while the labour of maintenance and repair has received some recent scholarly attention, the field is relatively new, and there is a great deal more to be said. How might we genuinely learn from repair expertise in the Global South, without further colonising? Is it possible to balance corporate repair responsibilities with smaller-scale DIY and community-based practices?
Technical skill and material knowledge
Much time has been spent debating the ‘future of work’ vis à vis technological change and automation. Less attention, however, has been given to the loss of technical skills and material literacies that have accompanied many political and economic processes of deindustrialisation and offshoring in the Global North. In contemporary Australia, for example, few people are formally trained in technical trades and manual crafts, and these areas are undervalued as vocational and educational prospects. Designers and engineers – now largely educated in digital skill-sets – have far less direct experience of the human and material realities of producing and repairing things than ever before.
How will this impact our capacity to survive, maintain and repair, in the context of climate change? How could we reorient concepts of skill and expertise to account for alternative knowledge systems, across different cultures and contexts? How might we reframe technical skill and material knowledge in the context of the ‘just transitions’ movement’ (or similar models)?
Craft and small-scale production
Despite the decline in formal technical training in many parts of the world, craft has recently emerged as a culturally potent alternative force, and a powerful resistor of neoliberalised faith in technological solutionism. Small-scale and/or artisanal production is increasing, with makers opting to focus on local networks, ecologically responsible processes, handmade goods and niche industries.
The strategies used by small-scale manufacturers in deindustrialised economies bear some examination, if we are to imagine other, more sustainable ways of working, making and being. In current contexts, practical skills training and craft education increasingly occurs informally, through auto-didactic or “on-the-job” modes. What lessons from the satisfaction of craft can we bring to the future of work? How do we balance questions of labour, scale and time in ecologically responsible design?
How to submit a proposal
Please send a title, abstract (300 words) and a bio (100 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org by 25 July 2022.
In this email, please also indicate if you intend to attend in person or online. Please also let us know if you are interested in developing your paper as a book chapter, and we will take this into consideration in the edited book planning process. At any time, please feel free to let us know of any accessibility requirements you may need.
Further details included in Event Information
Image 1. Spare parts in a roadside stall, Surabaya, Indonesia, 2017. Photograph by Alexandra Crosby.
Image 2. UTS Fashion Honours Graduate Maddison Robinson, Sydney, Australia, 2021.
Image 3. UTS architecture students in first year construction. Photo courtesy of Tim Schork.
Image 4. Serge Haidutschyk’s wood workshop. Photograph by Jesse Adams Stein.
Image 5. Bicycle repair. Photograph by Woerpel.