Reviews

Endorsements of Industrial Craft in Australia: 

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Jesse Adams Stein’s Industrial Craft in Australia is an incredibly important and timely book. In listening to the voices of a vital group of skilled workers she highlights how necessary their skills are for any country that wants to make things and how fragile the manufacturing base is. This is a book that should be required reading for any politician serious about the future of manufacturing industry and a national skills base.

Professor Tim Strangleman, Sociology, Work & Employment, University of Kent, UK.

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The global pandemic has reminded us, just in time, that no country can afford to ‘offshore’ manufacturing and lose the ability to make things. Jesse Adams Stein’s extraordinary book takes readers inside the ‘black box’ of contemporary manufacturing. Through sensitive analysis of vivid oral histories, it shows us how highly-skilled crafts men and women, combining old skills and new technologies, are behind the manufactured objects that we all use every moment of our lives.

Professor Alistair Thomson, Monash University, Fellow – Academy of Social Sciences Australia, President of Oral History Australia.

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Jesse Adams Stein’s fascinating book opens our eyes to a world of highly skilled industrial work, grounded in traditional knowledge and creativity, that extends into the ‘postindustrial’ world of digital fabrication, 3D printing, maker-culture, and artistic practice. Deindustrialization is not just about loss. Industrial Craft in Australia represents a remarkable original contribution to the global study of deindustrialization and oral history more generally.

Professor Steven High, Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling, Concordia University, Canada.

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Yes, there are still toolmakers. So writes Jesse Adams Stein in her important new book – the first to provide a finely detailed account of the experiences and methods of industrial artisans. Drawing on extensive interviews, and benefitting from Stein’s deep technical understanding and writerly skill, this is a major addition to craft studies, and will serve as a model for scholars in other geographies to follow.

Glenn Adamson, craft and design historian, author of The Invention of Craft (2013), Fewer, Better Things (2018), and Craft: An American History (2021), among other titles, and former Director of the Museum of Arts and Design. (USA)

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Feedback from a former engineering patternmaker (one of the subjects of the book):

Your willingness Jesse to go where others have dared not is most appreciated. You have chosen a most obscure field of enquiry and have examined this with great care and clarity. Beyond defining what pattern making is or was  you honour us all with this insightful account of individual transitions beyond ’the pattern making bench’. To have listened and given witness to us who traversed that unmapped path … is both astonishing and very gratifying.

– Peter Watts

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Excerpts from book reviews of Hot Metal:

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Jesse Adams Stein combines meticulous and imaginative research with sophisticated analysis to produce a highly original, engaging and illuminating account of the final decades of an Australian state enterprise. … The originality of Stein’s approach lies in integrating labour history themes related to changing labour processes and technologies, sexual divisions of labour and workplace cultures with a systematic analysis of space and material objects.

Professor Rae Frances, Review of Hot Metal in Labour History, no. 112, 2017, pp. 218-220.

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This inventive book about new approaches to material culture and labour history is a remarkable intervention in the field of design history. It will, I am confident, incite future scholars to investigate the people, spaces and objects that define and complicate the world of work.

Associate Professor David Brody, review of Hot Metal in the Journal of Design History, vol. 30, no. 4, 2017, pp. 427-29.

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The author has found a way to bring a new approach to contribute to a well ploughed field. She succeeds admirably. … It is at once a study of people and their relationship to technology, and a record of a period of history that is usually treated from quite different perspectives. It shows us how labour history can lead the way that history is written. In that, it is pathbreaking and important. This a terrific story. It is a critical reflection on the mistakes of economic rationalism, and the losses from deindustrialisation without becoming only a story of loss with nostalgia for a golden era. Its findings are salutary.

Professor Diane Kirkby, review of Hot Metal in Recorder, April 2017

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… with a flair all its own, this is a riveting and accessible exploration of lost printing and trade cultures, and the shot from all sides transformation of blue-collar work. … This is a book that easily attains the kind of conversational and open-handed warmness of ethnography without explicitly aspiring to, full of colour and detail without ever losing the supple threads of argument being pursued.

Alex Griffin, University of Melbourne, Media International Australia, 2018