Rethinking Skill, New Ethnographic Perspectives on Expertise workshop May 7-8, 2016
This 2-day public workshop brought together an international group of social scientists to discuss anthropological debates surrounding skill and expertise. Invited guests included Dominic Boyer (Rice University), Alanna Cant (University of Oslo), Kevin Dawe (University of Kent), Kathryn Dudley (Yale University), Cristina Grasseni (Utrecht University), Douglas Holmes (Binghamton University), Dawn Lyon (University of Kent), Daniela Peluso (University of Kent), Andrew Sanchez (University of Kent), Tim Strangleman (University of Kent), Freya Vass-Rhee (University of Kent) and Soumhya Venkatesan (University of Manchester).
Participants drew upon ethnographic research conducted in a broad range of geographic regions, on topics as varied as banking, dance, craftwork and industry. Participants circulated research papers in advance, in preparation for a critical debate about how different types of skills are learned and used. To date, the anthropological literature on skill has largely focussed upon the tactile dimensions of manual labour and artisanship, with less attention given to intellectual and cognitive capacities, and the relationship between different forms of knowledge and know-how.
The event was stimulating and well-received, and will form the basis for a future special issue of a leading anthropological journal. We look forward to further opportunities to share ideas across disciplines.