Knowing Through NeedleworkCurating the difficult knowledge of conflict textiles

Authors Organisations
Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalCritical Military Studies
Early online date27 Nov 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Nov 2019
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Drawing on our experience of commissioning and co-curating an exhibition of international conflict textiles – appliquéd wall-hangings (arpilleras), quilts, embroidered handkerchiefs, banners, ribbons, and mixed-media art addressing topics such as forced disappearances, military dictatorship, and drone warfare – this article introduces these textiles as bearers of knowledge for the study of war and militarized violence, and curating as a methodology to care for the unsettling, difficult knowledge they carry. Firstly, we explain how conflict textiles as object witnesses voice difficult knowledge in documentary, visual and sensory registers, some of which are specific to their textile material quality. Secondly, we explore curating conflict textiles as a methodology of ‘caring for’ this knowledge. We suggest that the conflict textiles in our exhibition brought about an affective force in many of its visitors, resulting in some cases in a transformation of thought.


  • conflict textiles, curating, war, political violence, knowledge, methodology