Reading Textiles

Martina Waernsdoerfer schaut sich Stoff an
Martina Waernsdoerfer schaut sich Stoff an

 

While other cultural studies scholars read, research and interpret texts, Martina Wernsdörfer does the same with textiles. After analyzing the technique used to create the fabrics, she puts on her social and cultural anthropologist’s hat and asks: What kind of knowledge is contained in the craft? How can the often elaborate objects be classified in cultural-historical terms? In what social context were they created? And how do the craftsmen and women develop and read their work? Wernsdörfer, who curates the Asian collection of UZH’s Ethnographic Museum, is currently preparing a new exhibition. The most recent showpieces in the museum’s collection will be presented next summer: Hand-woven indigo-dyed fabrics, intricately embroidered by the women of the Miao people in South China. Wernsdörfer also carries out field research to get to know the artists in person and learn more about the region’s ongoing social change, evolving infrastructure and increasing cultural tourism. “As a social and cultural anthropologist, I always try to gain an inside understanding of a culture.”

 

Alice Werner; English translation by Philipp Isler