Seminar to explore Swaziland's traditional craft industry on April 12

** Please note: This event has been rescheduled. It now will occur on April 12. **

African art history scholar William Dewey will present "Contemporary Indigenous Knowledge in Swaziland: Local 'Crafts' transforming into 'Global' Arts" from noon to 1 p.m. on April 12, in Foster Auditorium, on the first floor of Paterno Library. The presentation is co-sponsored by the Social Sciences Library at Penn State and the Interinstitutional Consortium on Indigenous Knowledge (ICIK). The event is free and open to the public and also can be viewed live online here:, or go to and search for the presentation date in the menu to bring up the direct link (no log in is required).

Dewey, a professor of art history at Penn State, has studied the arts of southern Africa for many years, focusing primarily on the Shona people of the nation of Zimbabwe. In 2009, he received a Senior Fulbright Fellowship to work with the Swaziland National Museum. He will discuss some of his latest research and examine the contemporary situation in Swaziland from the perspective of where the artists of traditional art find themselves.

"International art dealers sell Swazi traditional art to collectors for thousands of dollars," Dewey said. "Numerous nonprofits and nongovernmental agencies have websites on the Internet promoting self-help projects to assist Swazi women to sell beautiful handmade products to the world. The bustling Manzini market in Swaziland routinely throngs with buyers and sellers of Swazi artifacts. Vendors set up roadside makeshift stands hoping that passing tourists will stop to buy their wares. Rural artists continue to be commissioned by neighbors and acquaintances to make 'traditional' objects such a headrests, meat-platters and beaded items for upcoming ceremonies.

"What is perhaps most interesting is that all of the previously mentioned peoples and organizations are basically dealing with the same types of objects. Who is selling what to whom? And why? How do local 'crafts' become transformed into 'global' art? Clearly there is an interesting juxtaposition of the global market and 'fine art' interests, Swazi national aspirations, and local struggles to simply survive, all playing off against each other."

This talk is part of an ongoing seminar series on indigenous knowledge. To view past seminars in this series, see If you anticipate needing accommodations or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact Helen Sheehy, 814-863-1347 in advance of your participation.

Last Updated January 09, 2015