B. Lynne Milgram (OCAD University)

E-mail: lmilgram@faculty.ocadu.ca

B. Lynne Milgram is Professor of Anthropology at OCAD University, Toronto. Her research in the northern Philippines analyzes the cultural politics of social change regarding women’s work in crafts, microfinance, the Hong Kong-Philippine secondhand clothing trade, and street and public market vending. Milgram investigates of urban public space transformations and issues of informality, governmentality, and extralegality regarding livelihood rights and food security. New projects analyze social entrepreneurship and the transnational trade in Philippine crafts and coffee. Milgram has coedited 5 books including, (2013) (with Hansen & Little) Street Economies of the Urban Global South, SAR Press. Recent publications include: (2019) Gift-Commodity Entanglements: Repositioning (In)formality in a Philippine Market Trade, Anthropologica 61:51-64; (2019) (Re)fashioning Philippine Street Foods and Vending Economic Anthropology, DOI:10.1002/sea2.12161; (2018) The Resilience of Fresh Food Provisioning in Baguio’s Retail Public Market. In Cities in Asia by and for the People, 201-228. Cabannes, Douglass, Padawangi, eds. (U of Amsterdam).

Fashioning Frontiers in Transnational Artisanal Trade:

Social Entrepreneurship and Textile Production in the Philippine Cordillera

In the northern upland Philippines, a new group of social entrepreneurs are working with Cordillera weavers to develop innovatively-designed yet indigenously-inspired textiles that respond to the global market for artisanal goods. These social entrepreneurs champion business transparency, quality production, ongoing producer-buyer relationships, and community welfare. This paper investigates these frontier enterprises in Ifugao and Benguet provinces. I argue that understanding the nuanced dynamics of such contemporary textile production and trade means exploring how artisans and entrepreneurs operationalize work opportunities and negotiate market precarity given shifts in raw material availability, labour conditions, market demand, and the material representation of local cultural identity. I suggest that these interdependent forces keep entrepreneurs and artisans in a reciprocal relationship of trust – but one that experiences periodic ruptures such as when financial need sees artisans sell to one entrepreneur goods promised to another. To meet shifting consumer tastes, artisans and entrepreneurs also challenge any conceptualization of “authenticity” as a static entity as weavers adeptly incorporate designs that simultaneously speak of modernity and local indigenous identity. The cultural turn privileging ethical consumption thus suggests such social enterprises can resolve push-pull tensions to yield an industry for, and more responsive to, both artisans’ and consumers’ needs.

Key words: Philippines, Cordillera, material culture, crafts, textiles, social entrepreneurship, tradition, modernity, and authenticity

Fashioning Frontiers in Transnational Artisanal Trade:

Social Entrepreneurship and Textile Production in the Philippine Cordillera

B. Lynne Milgram (OCAD University)

ABSTRACT (199 words)

In the northern upland Philippines, a new group of social entrepreneurs are working with Cordillera weavers to develop innovatively-designed yet indigenously-inspired textiles that respond to the global market for artisanal goods. These social entrepreneurs champion business transparency, quality production, ongoing producer-buyer relationships, and community welfare. This paper investigates these frontier enterprises in Ifugao and Benguet provinces. I argue that understanding the nuanced dynamics of such contemporary textile production and trade means exploring how artisans and entrepreneurs operationalize work opportunities and negotiate market precarity given shifts in raw material availability, labour conditions, market demand, and the material representation of local cultural identity. I suggest that these interdependent forces keep entrepreneurs and artisans in a reciprocal relationship of trust – but one that experiences periodic ruptures such as when financial need sees artisans sell to one entrepreneur goods promised to another. To meet shifting consumer tastes, artisans and entrepreneurs also challenge any conceptualization of “authenticity” as a static entity as weavers adeptly incorporate designs that simultaneously speak of modernity and local indigenous identity. The cultural turn privileging ethical consumption thus suggests such social enterprises can resolve push-pull tensions to yield an industry for, and more responsive to, both artisans’ and consumers’ needs.

Key words: Philippines, Cordillera, material culture, crafts, textiles, social entrepreneurship, tradition, modernity, and authenticity