Dr. Stephanie Bunn presented at the seminar in Archaeological Encounters on Thursday, January 20, at 12:15 pm. Her talk is entitled “Craft, Embodied Knowledge, and Learning through the Hands.”

We learn textile skills through subtle and manipulative actions of our hands, whether sewing, weaving, embroidery or basketry, so studying textiles can only be enriched through hands-on practice of these skills. Dr. Bunn gives a brief account of her 30 years of anthropological research into textiles through practice, asking the question, “What are we learning alongside the skills themselves?” She answers this by expanding on two recent basketry projects, Woven Communities and Forces in Translation. Woven Communities uses basketry as a “way in” to understanding Scottish social history, developing into a study of basketry as therapy and rehabilitation. Forces in Translation explores the convergence between basketry hand skills and geometric and spatial cognition. Here, the possibility that hand skills provide an important and essential complement to other forms of learning is discussed.

Dr. Stephanie Bunn is an anthropologist of textiles at the University of St Andrews and conducts research on central Asian textiles and basketry. She has curated numerous exhibitions, including the first-ever British Museum exhibition of Kyrgyz felt textiles. She is author of Nomadic Felt (British Museum Press), editor of Anthropology and Beauty (Routledge) and co-editor of The Material Culture of Basketry (Bloomsbury). She currently collaborates with several scholars and basket-makers on Forces in Translation, researching the relationship between basket-work and mathematics.