Dr Stephanie Bunn
Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology
I aim to work with field companions to produce material in mutually beneficial ways. We share ideas, time and more. This involves reciprocation, whether gifts, time, help, friendship or pay. Perhaps there is no need to articulate this, it’s about relationships after all. My field companions are my close friends and relatives, that is how it is now. This seems to basically what we do as humans, whether as being in loco parentis for the children of two close field-friends, or reciprocal invitations for field companions to come to the UK.I don’t always achieve these aims, but I aspire for them – collaboration, reciprocation, mutuality.
How can we quantify, and qualify these relationships? How much do we share ideas or balance how our relationship contributes to our life’s work? Two Kyrgyz friends took part in collecting and informing the British Museum exhibition Striking Tents. In the Glasgow exhibition From Quilts to Couture, 12 Kyrgyz makers came to UK, fares paid for by the exhibition, and their visit formed part of my ‘impact statement’.
In the recent Scottish Woven Communities project I worked with regional basketmakers. Here the collaboration further extends into scholarly and practical engagement. We have held our own interdiscipinary symposium, have co-presented papers at AHRC conferences (though our project was not accepted as viable for EASA), have jointly produced a website. This collaboration has an interdisciplinary face, in that our practice, basket making, is an integral part of the program and has greatly developed my anthropological understandings of making and skill. This has enabled me to explore the relationships between practice and attention; between work and talk; problem solving; the relationship between the vernacular and design; and the significance of autodidactic research.