2019 Seed Grants
- Jeffrey Benjamin (Graduate Student; Department of Anthropology)
- Most researchers will admit that a significant proportion of their discoveries, ideas, and achievements are the direct or indirect result of a series of chance events and encounters that occur outside of any describable formal structure.
- This group explored the concepts of 'serendipity' and 'epiphany' (in its colloquial, secular sense) in scientific research and discourse
- A first step was a "mini-conference" for researchers to present and discuss ideas and stories.
- The goal was not to instrumentalize or exploit the concepts of serendipity and epiphany, but rather to protect them and the conditions that allow them to flourish.
Yuan Yi (Graduate Student; Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures)
- The project investigated the meaning of craft in postindustrial society, where manufacturing, the long-time opponent to craft, no longer constitutes a major economic sector.
- A one-day interdisciplinary conference was held at Columbia in December 2019 that brought together practitioners, activists, and scholars whose work centers around craft, technology, and the economy.
- The first two sessions raised critical questions about the relationship between craft and machine, the utility of “old” technologies, and the sustainability of craft in today’s American market.
- The other sessions considered the cases of Asian countries from a comparative perspective, with an emphasis on the intangible cultural heritage system, the question of cultural diversity, and ethical consumer behaviors as a driving force in the craft industry.