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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Auntie Sewing Squad and Asian American Women’s Craftivism

  • Author(s): Loo, Yi-Shen
  • et al.

The Auntie Sewing Squad, founded in March 2020 by Kristina Wong, sews cotton masks to help those in need during the time of COVID-19 and follows a legacy of “craftivism,” or craft activism, being used for health justice in the United States. In the age of COVID-19, crafts, particularly the sewing of masks, have served a purpose for not only political health justice work, but for survival. For the Auntie Sewing Squad, their work in seeking to provide proper PPE, or personal protective equipment, to vulnerable communities is necessarily political due to the failure of the United States government to provide basic health equipment for all individuals during this global pandemic. This paper explores the ways in which the Auntie Sewing Squad’s work connects to the narrative of Asian American women participating in craftivism during the current health crisis of COVID-19 to not only provide masks to communities in need but also to create a collective network grounded in ideas of care. Analyzing four interviews conducted with members of the Auntie Sewing Squad revealed themes of mutual aid in a time of scarcity, transgenerational implications of care and knowledge, and health justice work. Thus, the Auntie Sewing Squad provides a counternarrative to the idea that Asian Americans are apolitical through its members’ health justice craftivism and centers the often marginalized narratives of Asian American women.

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