This article describes the testimonies of two arts and crafts collectives during the Salvadoran Civil War in the 1980s. These collectives, open to victims and refugees of the war, emerged as creative spaces during a time of significant social unrest. As participants learned to make and produce arts and crafts, these activities encouraged individual expression and allowed them to heal traumatic experiences. By describing the aspects that motivated and discouraged the involvement of participants over time, we show how the individual and collective aspects of making are important for the sustained participation of the people who engage in maker culture. We draw comparisons between the struggles of these historical movements and of current embodiments of the maker culture, in order to draw conclusions regarding how making can be a personal catalyst in the face of social hardship, the importance of economic sustainability in maker initiatives and how unjust gender dynamics take place in these spaces. The ability to compare and learn from these historical initiatives serves to unpack maker culture as a social asset that can be described beyond the mere use of digital tools and to repurpose it as a more inclusive concept that takes into account narratives from a broader range of expressions of making.
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