M.A. Theses: Victoria Elena Castillo, 2003

Ceramicists at the Convención del 45 Neighbourhood: Contemporary Ecuadorian Artisans and Their Material Culture

Ceramicists at the Convención del 45 neighbourhood have dealt with many economic and social changes over the course of the 20th century. At the beginning of the last century ceramicists continued the colonial practice of producing utilitarian vessels which met the needs of local and regional markets. Production was focused within the family and provided a dependable source of income. However, after World War II global changes, including mass production and globalization, had a profound affect on ceramicists as their products had to compete with imported plastic and metal items. As a result ceramicists made innovations in their design styles and found new avenues in which to sell their products.

This thesis uses a holistic approach to interpret the material culture produced by one small artisanal community in Cuenca, Ecuador. Through an examination of documentary research, oral history interviews,archaeological excavation of a kiln, and material culture research from the Convención del 45 neighbourhood I illustrate that ceramicists have, and continue to be, active participants in their society. Rather than emphasize the negative affects of imported goods and mass production on ceramicists, I demonstrate that as agents, they are reflexive participants in their community and have etched a place for themselves and their particular brand of production; their material culture is used to complement their own testimony regarding the socio-economic changes that orbit their neighbourhood and nation.