Learning to see value: Exchange and the politics of vision in a Chinese craft

  • Gowlland G
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This article explores the relation between value and vision, or the ways in which seeing, seeing in a particular way, and failing to see, might all have economic consequences. I address these issues in the context of a discourse I heard from artisans producing zisha pottery, in the Jiangsu Province of China. This discourse concerned the consequences of the inability of purchasers of zisha pottery to 'see' the craft, and the need for clients to be taught to distinguish between apparently very similar pots, with the aim of promoting 'traditional' methods. The observation of interactions between artisans and their clients led me to suggest that one can fruitfully borrow insights from the anthropology of the senses and of learning to inform anthropological theories of value.

Author-supplied keywords

  • China
  • Craft
  • Senses
  • Value
  • Vision

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  • Geoffrey Gowlland

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