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Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Dr Geoffrey Gowlland

PhD (Cambridge)



I have research and teaching interests in the anthropology of learning, work, apprenticeship, craft and material culture, with a regional focus on China and Taiwan. I obtained my PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2007.

My doctoral research aimed at understanding the consequences of China's modernisation projects – collectivisation and industrialisation in the 1950s, and privatisation as of the 1980s – on the nation's crafts, and on modes of apprenticeship and transmission of craft-related knowledge. This involved fieldwork among ceramic artisans in the Jiangsu Province, and a period of apprenticeship undertaken as field research method.

I have since conducted fieldwork in Taiwan's main centre of ceramics production, Yingge, to investigate the transformation of the ceramics industry as a result of industrial competition from China, and to understand the implications of new concerns with craft and industrial heritage.  

Pursuing with my interests in the relationship between knowledge practices and heritage, I have conducted research on the practice of conservation of 'heirloom' crops in Norway during a research stay at the University of Oslo in 2010-11.

In addition to several publications, the research on ceramics in China led to the setting up of the exhibition "A perfectionist craft? Precision and spontaneity in the zisha ceramics of China" at the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.


Jump to: Articles


Gowlland, Geoffrey (2012) 'Learning craft skills in China: apprenticeship and social capital in an artisan community of practice.' Learning, Livelihoods and Social Mobility. Special Issue of Anthropology and Education Quarterly., 43 (4). pp. 358-371.

Gowlland, Geoffrey (2011) '[Review essay] The "Matiere A Penser" approach to material culture: objects, subjects and the materiality of the self.' The Journal of Material Culture, 16 (3). pp. 337-343.

Gowlland, Geoffrey (2009) 'Learning to see value: exchange and the politics of vision in a Chinese craft.' Ethnos, 74 (2). pp. 229-250.

Gowlland, Geoffrey (2009) 'Style, Skill and Modernity in the Zisha Pottery of China.' The Journal of Modern Craft, 2 (2). pp. 129-141.

This list was generated on Wed Aug 20 01:07:00 2014 BST.