Craftivism, the practice of utilising various forms of handmade crafts as a vehicle for individual/collective agency and to advocate political or social viewpoints (Greer 2007), has emerged in recent years as an issue of interest to scholars from a range of disciplinary fields. Acts of craftivism raise some important questions for criminologists about the use of public space, power, resistance and surveillance. As one example of a growing ‘craftivist’ movement that has been steadily gaining momentum within craft and activist circles since the early to mid-2000s, yarn bombing has been a particularly popular form of craftivism. As an urban craft movement that melds the skill of knitting and crochet with the act of graffiti, yarn bombing has the potential to contribute to criminological understandings of graffiti and street art, particularly on issues of gender, perceptions of and motivations for graffiti, and the commodification of crime, amongst other things. Drawing on interviews with yarn bombers and craftivists, this paper will explore how acts of craftivism can be understood and explored through the criminological lens.
Dr Alyce McGovern is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at UNSW Australia