Ethics and representation

A global cultural conversation.

When I was doing my bachelors in South Africa, I visited Mozambique to do an internship with Wacy Zacarias and Djamilla De Sousa of Karingana Wa Karingana and Woogui. These two women have established a thriving business in Maputo, Mozambique where they explore, research and create authentically African textiles and accessories.

I have connected with them as collaborative partners throughout this masters and set up a generative session with them. My aim was to start identifying and defining some themes, experts and participants. We discussed all the many opportunities that we could venture into together, that would stay inline with my research and my own design process. I recorded the conversation so that I could be present during and then reflect on viability afterwards.

We talked about modern applications of weaving, knitting, embroidery and dyeing and how these could be translated into something more accessible to more rural communities. They are currently working with two groups of refugee communities in the Nampula province of Mozambique.

Our aim is to utilise and empower the women in these communities to explore and co-create new textile opportunities together.

Gathering of indigenous knowledge will be very important here and then identifying the challenges they face with materials and methodology. Storytelling is also intrinsically linked to this knowledge gathering and skills exchange as to be culturally and socially sustainable our aim is to incorporate the stories, traditions and values of those who will be working with the materials. We want to instil a sense of cultural inclusion within our work that will lead to growth and development within local production.

We ventured into the topic of cultural appropriation and how we all felt that if we use the materials, people and techniques dictated by the geographic location and do it in a way that empowers it is not appropriation. Going forward it is important to identify natural resources, but also to emphasize that indigenous technology is not only from non-western countries, they are methods of making that can originate from any specific geographical location. For example, the colours and pigments we can derive from local organic materials will differ by geographic location and the same for the tools and ways of making.

We spoke about sustainability and circularity and what it means in an African context, which is a subject that I would like to explore deeper in separate blog post. I would like to explore the current models of circular sustainability and adapt it to a more layered, relevant and human based concept for my research. I see cultural sustainability as the core of my model and will explain how all the other aspects of sustainability layers into that.

This reframing generative session was great in gathering a new perspective of a context that at this stage I feel quite displaced from. Many of the ideas that I had going into this conversation were clarified and I was able to define some sub questions that I could dissect. The result of this generative session was a complete reframing of my research direction with a specific context and path forward.

In our next session we will look more in depth at the different types of natural materials that are at their disposal and mine and we will look more at the end result that we are aiming for. As a part of our collaboration, the documenting of our practical research process will be very important to share intercontinentally and in a way that can teach and inform.

By identifying these specifics I can start with practical applications myself and connecting with the right group of people in The Netherlands to mimic our approach in two different spaces and see what the outcomes are.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s