Session at the 108th College Art Association of America Annual Conference

Daniel Eppes Coslett, Western Washington University and Jessica Gerschultz, University of Kansas 

The development of mass tourism during the twentieth century brought increasingly large numbers of travelers into contact with distant locales. Tensions between demonstrating modernity, offering expected levels of comfort, and representing host locations and peoples, produced mixed built environments charged with complex objectives. While references to “local” identities were at times achieved through regionalist approaches to modernism that incorporated elements of the vernacular, the decorative application of “traditional” handicrafts to structures, interiors, and furnishing was a popular means for such representation. Levels of theorization, authenticity, and inclusion regarding the use of handicrafts varied in different contexts and time periods, opening compelling questions regarding the definition, value, and purpose of handicraft in built environments as well as the gendering of roles and concepts designated as architectural or artisanal. Questions one might ask include the following: What elements of handicraft were deployed by modern architects in tourism settings, and why? How were crafts transformed, theorized, and modernized in the process of that deployment, and in what ways were they feminized? How did the use of handicraft shape narratives of identity that privileged specific histories, identities, mythologies, and marginalized others?

This panel invites submissions that address intersections between modernist architecture and "locally" inspired handicraft from twentieth-century sites of tourism. Papers that consider the global south and/or postcolonies in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, as well as the current state of these sites, are particularly welcome. Papers addressing gender, power dynamics, and collaborations between artisan and architect are also highly encouraged.