Reviews of Homeward Bound

“3.5 out of 4 stars” - People Magazine                                                               “The brilliance of Emily Matchar’s new book is that it exhaustively describes what disillusioned workers are opting into: a slower, more sustainable, and more self-sufficient lifestyle that’s focused on the home. Matchar synthesizes dozens of trend stories … into a single, compelling narrative about the resurgence of domesticity….Refreshing.” -The New Republic                                                       "[P]rovocatively explores what the movement says about the role of women in society today.” – The New Yorker                                                                       "I unreservedly loved it…It’s empathetic and funny and thoughtful and smart, and I encourage all of you to read it."– The Hairpin                                                         “Cogently argues that choosing a more hands-on, DIY lifestyle – family farming, canning, crafting, can, without sacrificing feminism’s hard-won gains, improve on an earlier time when ‘people lived more lightly on the earth and relied less on corporations, and family and community came first.’” - ELLE                                                               “[I]ntelligent and insightful...essential reading.” - Christianity Today                                                       “A lively and perceptive reporter… a valuable and astute assessment.”—Publishers Weekly                                                         “A well-researched look at the resurgence of home life…. Offers intriguing insight into the renaissance of old-fashioned home traditions.”— Kirkus Reviews

What is New Domesticity?

This blog is a look at the social movement I call ‘New Domesticity’ – the fascination with reviving “lost” domestic arts like canning, bread-baking, knitting, chicken-raising, etc. Why are women of my generation, the daughters of post-Betty Friedan feminists, embracing the domestic tasks that our mothers and grandmothers so eagerly shrugged off? Why has the image of the blissfully domestic supermom overtaken the Sex & the City-style single urban careerist as the media’s feminine ideal? Where does this movement come from? What does it mean for women? For families? For society?                                                                                     My book, Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity, which explores New Domesticity in greater depth, will be published by Simon & Schuster in May 2013.

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The geography of crafters

 

embroidered map

Hand-embroidered map from ilgattoselvatico at Etsy. How cool is this?!

If you’re only going to read one 234-page PhD dissertation this year, I’d recommend Benjamin Shultz’s “Handmade and DIY: The Cultural Economy in the Digital Age.”

Shultz, a geographer at the University of Tennessee, looks at how the internet allows indie craft production to exist as a “grassroots, technologically driven alternative to elite cultural industries,” often outside the major culture centers of New York, LA and San Francisco.

Using Etsy vendors as a proxy for indie crafters in general, Shultz sifted through half a million Etsy shops to map out which American cities have the most indie crafters per capita. He then looks at different city variables, from levels of tolerance (proxied by looking at the number of same-sex couples in a given city) to how many urban farms there are (meant to represent a city’s interest in going outside the corporate-industrial status quo). So interesting!

Some highlights:

While mainstream cultural industries concentrate in major metropolitan areas, indie craft production flourishes in second- and third-tier cities (there are TONS of indie crafters here in the Triangle)

The non-hierarchical structure of indie crafts has also paved the way for thousands of amateurs to participate in cultural production in ways that are not typical of other sectors in the cultural economy

Shlitz also gives a lot of thought to the Pacific Northwest’s role in the development of indie craft, specifically looking at how female members of the 1990s DIY music culture reclaimed old-fashioned domestic work in the name of feminism:

Others transferred the spirit of rebellion and independence from Riot Grrrl to the domestic realm, where they could give new meaning to devalued “feminine” skills like sewing and knitting

And, in the annals of “shocker…not,” he notes:

[R]elative to its population, Portland, Oregon registers far more Etsy accounts than one would expect. Though Portland ranks 25th in terms of its metropolitan population, it ranks sixth in terms of total Etsy accounts and comprises nearly three percent of all registered Etsy users. (As one crafter told me – “It’s rainy in Portland. So we sit in the movies and knit.” Put a bird on it!).

 

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