Stitching selves : performing empowerment in a community sewing circle
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Drawing upon critical interpretive medical anthropology (Lock and Scheper-Hughes 1996) and Judith Butler’s (1990) concept of performativity, this thesis investigates the empowerment potential and effect on well-being of a community sewing group located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. This project was conducted using the methods of narrative ethnography, including semi-structured individual interviews, focus groups, and participant observation and finds that the Saskatoon Mothers’ Centre Sewing Circle contributes to well-being in three major ways. First, learning to sew shapes women’s self-perceptions, resulting in more capable, productive, and self-sufficient subjectivities. Learning to sew also enables women to act with more agency in their daily lives, empowering them through the opportunity to express identities, enhance social networks, and act within financial limitations. Finally, the Sewing Circle creates an environment of empowerment, an emotionally and physically safe space in which mothers are supported and nurtured, resulting in the formation of a supportive and encouraging community of practice. The Sewing Circle therefore supports women’s well-being by instilling them with the confidence and ability to act in their daily lives and to fulfill their potential. This research contributes to an understanding of the way in which sewing can contribute to the holistic well-being of older mothers by linking empowerment to performativity, and may contribute to the development of similar empowerment programming in the future.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
DepartmentArchaeology and Anthropology
SupervisorDowne, Pamela J.
CommitteeWaldram, James B.; Abonyi, Sylvia
Copyright DateJune 2015