Dr Emilia Ferraro


Art and Design Office, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design

Emelia Ferraro
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Dr Emilia Ferraro is a Lecturer in Sustainable Design.

  • PhD in Social Anthropology. The University of Kent at Canterbury, Kent. England. 2000
  • MA (Econ) Development Studies. International Development Centre, Victoria University of Manchester. England. 1992
  • Bachelor of Arts in Social Anthropology. Faculty of Humanities, University of Rome “La Sapienza”. Italy. First Class Honours. 1990


Dr Ferraro’s highly interdisciplinary scholarship (both research and teaching) sits at the interface of Anthropology, Craft Theory, and Sustainability Science.

As an anthropologist, Dr Ferraro has developed expertise on a variety of issues around Sustainability, both at the local as well as at the international level. Her journey as a researcher started among the indigenous Quichua peasants of Northern Ecuador, where she has resided for prolonged periods of time between 1991 and 2015. She is particularly interested in the relationships between international development discourses and projects and indigenous communities of the Andes and the Amazon, and the several tensions arising from such relationship on issues of belief systems, gender, poverty and inequalities in general.

Over the past ten years, Dr Ferraro’s scholarship has turned towards theorizing the multiple connections between Craft and Sustainability on which she has made important contributions.

Her research investigates the multiple ways in which the concept of the human being, nature and society that lies at the core of craft thinking and practice can contribute to the sustainability project. It calls for a critical rethinking of what makes a “sustainable environment”, and the role creativity plays in such redesigns. Specifically, she is interested in the relevance of “making” for wellbeing that she has contributed to set as a new field of research within sustainability scholarship. The exploration of what the crafts can contribute to individual, collective and planetary wellbeing was her specific contribution to the ERC-funded research programme Knowing from the Inside: Anthropology, Art, Architecture and Design, led by Prof. Ingold, and on which she was a nominated associate.

Craft onto-epistemology: Having lived and researched for over 25 years among the Indigenous peoples of Ecuador, Emilia has developed an interest for ways of thinking and knowing “otherwise”. Her own practice of making has alerted her to the importance of Craft and making as a way of knowing in its own right. She has developed a specific interest in “apprenticeship” -that is to say, the process of knowing by doing which lies at the core of craft learning- as a research methodology in its own right.

Material Culture, Materiality and Materials: All of Dr Ferraro’s publications emphasise the importance of materiality and materials for human existence, and contribute significantly to the theorizing of core analytical categories such as ‘value’ or ‘exchange’. Over the years, her concerns for Sustainability and her own creative process and practice have led to profound shifts in her research interests, engaging with the multiple relations that tie together materialities bodies and knowledge. Recently, she is engaging with the journey of individual materials and their properties, as they are acquired and transformed, contributing to current multi-disciplinary debates on “material ontology”. In particular, she is researching the history and trajectories of metallurgy in the Andes since pre-Hispanic times to the present.

View full research profile and publications


 I supervise PhD candidates who are interested in the following areas of research:

  • The history and philosophy of craft and Making
  • Craft and Sustainability
  • Craft & Culture
  • South American and Indigenous People’s Crafts 
  • Andean Silversmithing and Textile
  • Wellbeing, Craft & Sustainability
  • Sustainability and Cultural Heritage

I welcome enquiries from PhD applicants interested in any of the above areas. 

I am currently supervising PG researchers working on the following projects: 

  • YingYing Reng – From traditional craft to living tradition. Chinese traditional textile garments and new developments in design. First supervisor
  • Kunning Ding - From Trash to Treasure: Creating Emotionally Resonant Jewellery through Electroforming with Metal Recovered from Electronic Waste. Second supervisor
  • Kara Millen - The place of traditional skills & crafts in increasing sustainable behaviour and values and rural community resilience. First Supervisor