Jasper Waugh-Quasebarth

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Kentucky, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9441

Approve Date

April 18, 2017

Project Title

Waugh-Quasebarth, Jasper J., U. of Kentucky, Lexington, KY - To aid research on 'Musical Instrument Makers, Appalachian Forests, and the Re-enchantment of Livelihood and Material in West Virginia,' supervised by Dr. Ann E. Kingsolver

Preliminary abstract: This ethnographic project explores how meaningful, productive relationships are constituted between skilled labor and materials in the craft of musical instruments in the forests of West Virginia. The properties of highly specific species of trees and embodied knowledge of craft are entangled in a process of correspondence (Ingold 2013) where maker and material are mutually influencing in the pursuit of a successful ‘singing’ instrument. Makers often speak of successful instruments as living, cohabitating beings, signaling the possibility of craft as a process of re-enchantment (Jenkins 2000) of labor and material in a region where capitalist assumptions on the extraction of trees as commodities hold sway in economic conversations. Implicated in global processes of governance, exchange, and production, makers find meaning in their work through the novel and skilled relationship with wood materials. Drawing upon anthropologies of work and relational material agency and employing apprenticeship as a method, this study contributes to anthropological conversations on the relationship between humans, materials, and environment in productive contexts.