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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 10:11 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2003 1:42 pm
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Location: Canterbury, UK
Forum member Chris Buckley has been very restrained and not posted a message he sent to friends recently:

Dear colleagues,

If you are in or near London on February 16th please come to my talk “The Evolution of an Ancient Technology” at UCL:

February 16th at 4pm
Room 209, UCL Institute of Archaeology ... /20160216c

During the talk I will discuss some current questions in understanding of human cultures, and how these questions can be addressed with recent studies of weaving cultures in East Asia.

Much of what we call ‘culture’ is ephemeral. For example, I doubt if many of us could recall in detail the conversations we had with colleagues and family a month ago, let alone a year ago. We may have skills that have been hard-won, such as driving a car or playing a musical instrument, but few of us will play any role in passing those skills on to another generation. If we forget something important we pay it no heed, since we can probably find it again in a book, a document or an email.

With these things in mind, it is striking how pre-literate societies, possessing few of the tools that we have to hand, have managed to create and maintain cultural traditions that have lasted millenia. This includes craft traditions, of which weaving is one example. The loom designs and techniques involved with these traditions are amongst the most complex devices created in pre-modern times. How is this feat accomplished?

I will look at this question and others using examples from weaving traditions in Asia. Many of these traditions are very old, but are still active today (albeit under threat). In particular I will share new data from two studies, one semi-quantitiative, ‘micro’ study of how weaving traditions are passed between generations, and one ‘macro’ study of weaving technologies (looms) and techniques across the East Asia region. The macro study is probably the largest purpose-built database on material culture in general (and traditional technology in particular) assembled to date. Viewed together, the studies contain important insights into the processes by which cultural traditions are maintained, and the consequences of these processes. This includes phenomena that have been predicted, but never previously observed ‘in the field’.

This work overlaps with the book that I recently co-authored with Eric Boudot (The Roots of Asian Weaving, Oxbow Books, 2015), but whereas ‘Roots’ primarily addressed questions relating to weaving and ethnography, in this talk I will focus on fundamental questions relating to the human cultural experience.

Please feel free to pass this invitation along to other interested people. The UCL seminar series is open to the public (and free of charge).

I’d like to thank Professor Steven Shennan of UCL for making this event possible.

Chris Buckley

File comment: a weaver from Lewohala village, Lembata
Flores-Lewohala-weaver-0446.jpg [ 101.93 KiB | Viewed 11278 times ]

on-line tribal textiles resource
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