Collaborative conference paper presented at the 1st Biennial International Conference for the Craft Sciences – BICCS 21, held online during 4–6 May 2021, initiated by the Craft Laboratory, affiliated at the Department of Conservation, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.


This paper asks how craft practice can inform historical reconsiderations of handicraft produced within a humanitarian socio-economic framework (to support humanitarian aims or fund-raising initiatives), and in turn explores how historical processes become materialised in contemporary humanitarian craftwork. By considering the possibilities for practice-based methods, this paper proposes the utility of involvement in craft-making processes for historians of humanitarianism. At the same time, this gives rise to a multiplicity of concerns for a contemporary craft practitioner undertaking a form of creative expression identifiable by its humanitarian purpose. It is therefore a helpful corrective to the temptation to think that experiments are innovations. Looking at early attempts in history we see a practice mirrored, not in the results, but in the process of working in a humanitarian mode of craft-based practice.