Lindtner to study Chinese maker culture

Silvia Lindtner

Assistant Professor Silvia Lindtner has received a $10,000 grant to study maker culture in China. The funding comes from a collaborative program that pairs the University of Michigan’s Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies with Fudan University in Shanghai, China. 

The maker movement has grown in popularity in recent years, as hobbyists, artists, engineers, students and others interested in a do-it-yourself approach to creating products have formed collaborative communities that share tools, software and ideas. 

These “makerspaces” or “hackerspaces” are celebrated as holding the key to the next generation of computational devices, IT innovation, the revitalization of old industries like manufacturing  and the improvement of educational systems

Working with Xianghua Ding from Fudan University, Lindtner will investigate the impact of Chinese maker culture on sustainable living, learning, and community building. 

China’s history and expertise in professional making and manufacturing has attracted hobbyists makers and artists, as well as investors and corporations, who seek to turn ideas and prototypes into end-consumer products. 

Lindtner and Ding’s study will seek to gather a greater understanding of the differences between professional makers and hobbyists, with one group driven by the need to make money and provide for their families, the other driven by a countercultural and innovative spirit.

The pair will conduct ethnographic research with professional and hobbyist makers in China, focusing on their motivations, visions and dreams, as well as their access to resources and career opportunities. The maker movement has received increasing amounts of attention for its ability to positively impact education and innovation through sustainable and collaborative technology production, and the results derived from Lindtner and Ding’s interviews and observations could provide valuable insight into how much these claims hold true.

The funding for this project was provided by the Michigan-Fudan Collaboration in the Social Sciences, which is designed to foster more faculty and student collaboration and exchange between Fudan and U-M, and is supported by the U-M College of Literature, Science, and the Arts’ Lieberthal‐Rogel Center for Chinese Studies.

Posted October 28, 2014