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Post-capitalist cooperative relations in craft maker communities: a long view of the Whiteway Colonists and the Gloucestershire Guild of Craftsmen

Authors: Nicola Thomas*,
Topics: Cultural Geography, Historical Geography
Keywords: Craft, Maker, Cooperative, Post-capitalist, Collective, Creative, Communities
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper takes a long view of collective organisations that have emerged in response to the need for crafts practitioners or makers to work together, simultaneously finding ways to be autonomous and resist dominate modes of capital production. The paper thinks through spaces such as collective craft guilds that emerged during the 1930s – 1950s in the UK (and internationally). The discuss will focus on the ways in which these collectives enacted cooperative behaviours, whilst working within the grain of capitalist consumption, selling goods to rich patrons and members of the public who could afford hand-made work. The paper will explore the relationship between the socialist utopian Whiteway Colony, Gloucestershire (UK) and the Gloucestershire Guild of Craftsmen. It will address the way in which Whiteway residents who were members of the Guild shaped an ethos of mutuality, and enacted a broader politics of post-capitalist possibility. The praxis of the Colony and Guild appear to be mutually supportive, however the politics of maintaining close relations between the consumer and producer that the Guild of Craftsmen encouraged to sell their members work resulted in tensions around exactly what sort of cooperative ethos the Guild could endure in the post 2nd World War period. This paper explores the social lives of Guild and Whiteway Colonist members to explore the praxis of mutualism. This historical geography of creative collectives will close by offering thoughts on the contemporary relevance of looking at past expressions of post-capitalist possibility in maker communities.

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