dalferro, alexandra: Travel Grant - 2016-2017

College: 
College of Arts and Sciences
Department: 
Anthropology
Project Title: 
Shimmering Surfaces and Stray Threads: Weaving State Politics into Silk in Contemporary Thailand
Project Abstract: 
Ethnic Khmer silk weavers in Thailand bring unique methods and meanings to their craft. In Thai government efforts to promote the industry, however, Khmer silks are treated as part of a static “Thai” national cultural heritage. I will treat silk as an assemblage of species, values and histories that creates and is created by weavers and consumers in particular ways for distinct ends. I will examine how weavers engage with demands for shimmering surfaces that conform to standards of technical quality, marketability, and heritage ideals that obfuscate local meanings and processes. My project explores tensions that play out in the arena of silk making between efforts to democratize heritage versus recuperate it for a monoethnic nation-state.