Technology as skill in handwork and craft: basketwork and handweaving

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


Taking a definition of technology that posits it as an aspect of skilled handwork and embodied practice, this chapter draws on Bunn’s recent research into basketry and mathematics, referencing thinkers such as Bryan Pfaffenberger, John Dewey, Tim Ingold, Trevor Marchand, Ricardo Nemirovsky, and Juhanii Pallasmaa. The chapter explores how technology cannot be separated from the skilful person who employs it. Exploring the boundaries between basket-weaving and loom-weaving technologies highlights that, as an unmechanisable technology, basketry reveals how humans and technology are part of a dynamic whole. If we define technology as separate from hand skills, an approach quite common since the industrial revolution, this masks how skilful embodied learning has value for the development of human cognition. Through hand skills such as basketry, people develop dexterity, spatial awareness, and design and engineering skills. This impacts on more ‘abstract’ capacities, such as geometry, problem-solving, and mechanical understanding. If we lose sight of the value of hand skills for human cognition, we may, therefore, as Ingold argues, become the authors of our own dehumanisation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave handbook of the anthropology of technology
EditorsMaja Hojer Bruun, Ayo Wahlburg, Rachel Douglas-Jones, Cathrine Hasse, Klaus Hoeyer, Dorthe Brogard Kristensen, Britt Ross Winthereik
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherPalgrave Macmillian
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9789811670848
ISBN (Print)9789811670831, 9789811670862
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2022


  • Attention
  • Basketry
  • Skill
  • Technology
  • Tool


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