Blood, Sweat, and Innovation: Stories from Porcelain Artisans in China
In her talk, Dorothy Ko describes how she adopted an “eco art history” approach to study a group of stories that circulates in the artisanal communities in Jingdezhen in south-central China. Prominent in these tales is the entanglement of clay, rocks, mineral pigments, and firewood with the artisan’s body (parts), especially sweat and blood. Into this volatile mix two other ingredients—an exploitative boss and corrupt government—round off the recipe for artisanal creativity and material transformation.
Dorothy Ko is a Professor of Chinese History at Columbia University.