The New Politics of the Handmade: Craft, Art and Design

The book cover for The New Politics of the Handmade: Craft, Art and Design, edited by Anthea Black and Nicole Burisch, with title in navy blue and coral text, featuring an image of the artwork "Bale Variant no. 0020," by Shinique Smith that shows a very tall column of clothes knotted together with fabric strips, installed in a plain gallery space.

The New Politics of the Handmade: Craft, Art and Design, edited by Anthea Black and Nicole Burisch, 2020, Bloomsbury Press. Cover artwork is: Bale Variant no. 0020, Shinique Smith, courtesy of Shinique Smith studio.

The New Politics of the Handmade: Craft, Art and Design is a publication on contemporary craft politics edited by Anthea Black and Nicole Burisch.

Bloomsbury Press, 2020. Order from Bloomsbury Press

Contemporary craft, art and design are inseparable from the flows of production and consumption under global capitalism. The New Politics of the Handmade features twenty-three voices who critically rethink the handmade in this dramatically shifting economy.

The authors examine craft within the conditions of extreme material and economic disparity; a renewed focus on labour and materiality in contemporary art and museums; the political dimensions of craftivism, neoliberalism, and state power; efforts toward urban renewal and sustainability; the use of digital technologies; and craft’s connections to race, cultural identity and sovereignty in texts that criss-cross five continents. They claim contemporary craft as a dynamic critical position for understanding the most immediate political and aesthetic issues of our time.

The New Politics of the Handmade features writing by Anthea Black, Nicole Burisch, Elke Gaugele, Noni Brynjolson, Shannon R. Stratton, Leopold Kowolik, Peggy Deamer, Diana Sherlock, Alexis Anais Avedisian and Anna Khachiyan, Blanca Serrano Ortiz De Solórzano, Nasrin Himada, Kirsty Robertson, Julia Bryan-Wilson, Laura August, Ellyn Walker, Heather Anderson, and a conversation with Sonya Clark, Wesley Clark, Bibiana Obler, Mary Savig, Joyce J. Scott, and Namita Gupta Wiggers; and a series of artist profiles that feature Selven O’Keef Jarmon, Zahner Metals, Morehshin Allahyari, Shinique Smith, Margarita Cabrera, and Ursula Johnson.


“This exciting new anthology is an engaged and comprehensive overview of the political and ethical debates of contemporary craft and its pervasive social commitments.” –  Jenni Sorkin, Associate Professor, History of Art & Architecture, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA. 

“The New Politics of the Handmade jumpstarts a much needed discussion about the unexamined claims that surround craft as a progressive political movement, a form of anti-capitalist consumption, and a sustainable practice. In this volume Anthea Black and Nicole Burisch have orchestrated an insightful conversation with a diverse group of scholars, artists, and curators about the role and power of craft in the contemporary art world that charts a more nuanced way forward.” –  Elissa Auther, Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs and the William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator, Museum of Arts and Design, USA. 

“The New Politics of the Handmade is a timely volume for craft studies that scrutinises the terms ‘craft’ and ‘handmade,’ both their problematic appropriation by consumer capitalism and their continued relevance as a byword for activism and social justice. From the off the book takes issue with craft’s beneficent, comforting image that is shown to be susceptible to the affirmatory cultures of neo-liberal individualism. Essays explore craft’s relationship to decoloniality, indigeniety, counter-hegemonic practices, feminism, pluralism, global exchange and identity, through an astute focus on specific craft processes and objects. It is an important text for the growing scholarly interest in craft.” –  Stephen Knott, Lecturer in Craft Theory and History, Kingston University London, UK. 

“In their analyses of maquiladoras and makerspaces, Netukulimk and studio craft, the ‘artisanal’ and the ‘craftwashed,’ the artists, authors, and politically-charged perspectives that Anthea Black and Nicole Burisch have deftly woven into this collection break new paths for contemporary craft studies. Absolutely essential reading for those keeping up with this field’s rapidly-expanding discourse.” –  Maria Elena Buszek, Associate Professor of Art History, University of Colorado Denver, USA.

About the editors:

Anthea Black is an artist, writer and Assistant Professor in Printmedia and Graduate Fine Arts at the California College of the Arts, USA. Nicole Burisch is Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Canada. Writings by Black and Burisch are included in The Craft Reader (BERG) and Extra/ordinary: Craft and Contemporary Art (Duke University Press), Making Otherwise (Carleton University Art Gallery) and together they have lectured on craft, curating, and politics in Canada, the USA, and the UK.


Black and Burisch wish to acknowledge the support of Canada Council for the Arts, Grants to Independent Critics and Curators, Ontario Arts Council Craft Projects – Connections, and The Center for Craft Creativity and Design.


About anthea black

Artist, writer, art publisher.