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The textile industry and its products have historically been globally interconnected. Thus far, historians have analysed this interconnectivity through three major channels: trade, labour and design. Naturally, the three approaches overlap. However, the differences in their focal points sometimes stand out: trade connections focus more on topography and geopolitics, labour on human skill allocations and organisation, and design on product and materiality. This Conference aims to bring together these different approaches to global connectivity by inviting researchers from various disciplines (historians, anthropologists, conservators and curators).
The workshop focuses on the Dutch textile industry and trade, because the Dutch textile trade and industry have had a global outreach since the seventeenth century. However, their trajectories, interactions and products have not generally been positioned in a global or comparative context. For example, how did Dutch trade policies in textile product ranges, tariffs and labour organisation compare to and link with the English and others? This workshop also aims to address the following questions: How has the Dutch textile industry been influenced by its global connections and, vice versa, how have Dutch textile exports influenced other regions? How did the Dutch connect to or disconnect from differentiated textile markets and consumption tastes, for instance by linking, transferring and imitating designs and values of certain products? How did other players on the world market respond?
In order to answer these questions, the workshop adopts several innovative approaches. First, it will place Dutch textile production and trade in a truly global and interconnected perspective. Second, it aims to reconstruct long-term perspectives, bridging the discontinuity between the Early Modern and Modern periods that are distinct in Dutch historiography. Third, it will provide a new, integrated account of textile as commodity and material. To do that, the workshop will consider the changing ways fibres and products were categorized, and how the textile industry was configured around those categories. It will also incorporate object-based approaches, especially analysis of materiality in terms of fibres and processes. Finally, it will explore the ways the value of textile products was determined, in terms of tariffs, labour costs and product pricing, but also material and design improvements, within different socio-cultural and geo-political contexts.
Should you be interested in attending this workshop, please fill out our contact form with Subject: “Workshop March 2021”.