The Center for Research on Families (CRF) at UMass Amherst is thrilled to announce yet another award this year for former CRF Scholar Elizabeth Krause (’11-’12). On the heels of her recent NSF award, Krause, an associate professor of anthropology, has been awarded a collaborative research grant in the amount of $34,741 from the Wenner-Gren Foundation. This 2 year study takes place in the Italian Province of Prato, and is entitled, “Tight Knit: Familistic Encounters in a Transnational Fast Fashion Zone”. Krause’s collaborator overseas is Anthropologist Massimo Bressan of the IRIS Institute.
According to Krause, “The intensely globalized Province of Prato serves as an ethnographic laboratory for investigating the conditions of fast fashion. Here, a historic textile district known for its MADE IN ITALY “brand” has earned the distinction of having Europe’s largest Chinese community. Most of these transnational migrants produce low-cost items for the fast-fashion industry. Historically, the success of the MADE IN ITALY “brand” was attributed to small family firms lauded for their flexibility for meeting work demands. Less celebrated is the long history of an informal economy characterized by family arrangements tied to unwritten contracts, clandestine work, and old-world sensibilities of reciprocity. Many of these longstanding practices persist, yet the status quo has changed. Workers have intensified their ways of being flexible, and the state has deepened its mechanisms of control. Primary targets are transnational family firms and workers”. She and DR.Bressan, will attempt to answer: what family arrangements does this economy require, repel, or generate? How do family members cope with über-flexible lives? And finally, what cultural logics and values emerge from encounters between fast-fashion workers and state institutions?
Contributions to anthropology as a result of this research will be felt in two primary areas: economic anthropology and critical embodiment studies. An innovative encounter ethnography approach locates places where fast-fashion workers and state institutions encounter one another. Collaboration occurs at all levels of the project: research design, data collection, data analysis, training, writing, and policy-making. A training component focuses on developing systematic approaches to qualitative data analysis to enhance the relevance of anthropology for graduate students interested in addressing social challenges in transnational encounter zones.
For more information on Krause go to: www.umass.edu/family/crf-profiles/elizabeth-krause. For more information on Massimo Bressan and IRIS go to: www.irisricerche.it.
The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Inc. is a private operating foundation that is committed to the advancement of anthropology throughout the world. Through various programs supporting research, conferences, fellowships, networking and publication, the Foundation is dedicated to engagement with anthropological disciplines focusing on human origins, development, and variation. www.wennergren.org.