Renata M Leitão

Renata M Leitão
Cornell University | CU · Department of Design and Environmental Analysis

Doctor of Philosophy

About

22
Publications
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35
Citations
Introduction
I am a Brazilian/Canadiansocial change-focused design researcher. I am a co-chair of the DRS Pluriversal Design SIG and co-chair of the series of virtual conferences PIVOT. Most of my research practice evolved in close collaboration with Indigenous cultural stewards. Notably, in my doctoral research, I conducted a five-year (2012-2017) Participatory Action Research project in collaboration with members of the Atikamekw Nation (Quebec, Canada).

Publications

Publications (22)
Article
This paper makes the case that a Pluriversal Social Design should be desire-based. It suggests that the creation of meaningful social change requires moving the focus of design processes from needs to agentic desires. The author understands agentic desire as the creative impulse towards human flourishing. In social design, the current emphasis on n...
Chapter
Full-text available
And if you are in social design, we think you should be in an existential crisis right about now! If you’re not in an existential crisis as a designer in Social Change in 2021, you’re not doing it right! Depending on when you first became a designer, the profession you are currently in may look radically different from the profession that you enter...
Book
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This book is an outcome of the collective efforts of the Design Research Society (DRS) Special Interest Groups (SIGs) in Global Health, Pluriversal Design SIG, Sustainability SIG, SIGWELL and Education. We thank the DRS as well as all the members of our SIGs and all the contributing authors to this volume.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Problem Framing helps designers define issues they want to focus on and make issues more focused and addressable. In Industrial design, and several other design disciplines, designers use 'pain points' or points of friction in the user experience to support problem framing, and to elucidate areas where they can intervene and improve the experience...
Book
Full-text available
Pivot is a series of virtual conferences organized by the Pluriversal Design Special Interest Group (PluriSIG) of the Design Research Society (DRS). The PluriSIG and the Public Visualization Lab of OCAD University invited designers, scholars, artists, and changemakers for two days of intercultural conversations about decoloniality and societal tran...
Article
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This article argues that, in collaboration with Indigenous [and non-Western local] communities, social designers should approach “culture” not only as a form of heritage that should be preserved and transmitted, but also as a project that weaves together heritage, current material circumstances, and desirable ideas for the future. We therefore exam...
Book
Full-text available
Proceedings of 'Pivot 2020: Designing a world of many centers' Virtual conference. New Orleans, June 4, 2020 (held online). Organized by the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking at Tulane University and the DRS Pluriversal Design Special Interest Group.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
A world of many centers is a world where multiple worlds can flourish-where communities outside of the Center can design their own life projects, which reflect who they are, what they value, and who their ancestors had been. This paper argues that a Pluriversal Design-which aims to nurture alternative models of life and ways of world-making-is nece...
Preprint
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This article argues that, in collaboration with Indigenous [and non-Western local] communities, social designers should approach 'culture' not only as a heritage that needs to be preserved and transmitted, but also as a project that weaves heritage, current material circumstances, and desirable ideas for the future together. And so, we examine the...
Preprint
Full-text available
A French translation of this article was published here: LEITAO, R. M., & Marchand, A. (2018). Le design et l’empowerment au sein des communautés autochtones: S’engager avec la matérialité. Recherches amérindiennes au Québec, XLVIII (1-2), 91-99.
Article
La colonisation a radicalement transformé la vie matérielle de nombreuses communautés autochtones. Cet article offre les fondements théoriques pour soutenir l’idée que la pratique du design pourrait contribuer à l’empowerment des individus et des communautés autochtones en améliorant leurs capacités d’agir et en changeant les circonstances matériel...
Article
Full-text available
La question identitaire est au coeur des préoccupations de nombreuses communautés autochtones qui voient divers processus d’assimilation menacer leur riche héritage culturel. Des membres de la nation atikamekw et une équipe de designers allochtones de l’Université de Montréal travaillent ensemble à imaginer de nouveaux moyens de transmission et de...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper aims to contribute to the debate around the cultural dimension of the transitions by shedding a light on myths at the core of the modern civilizational project. The term myths is used to talk about stories that embody the values of the modern project, which became a certainty in people’s minds. Transitioning to a sustainable civilization...
Chapter
This chapter is comprised of five sections. First, it discusses the historical context that motivates many First Peoples to actively nourish and, in some cases, reconnect with their cultural roots. It also briefly presents the social and economic situation of the Atikamekw. Second, it argues that culture is a central feature of sustainable developm...
Article
This study examines the potential contribution of graphic design practice to the assertion of the cultural identity of indigenous peoples. A graphic design intervention may be about increasing the power of self-representation of ‘invisible’ or misrepresented groups, enabling them to convey a recognizable identity, particularly through the use of vi...
Article
This paper presents the principles and outcomes of an eight-week cycle of creative workshops that joined together designers of Université de Montréal and Atikamekw artisans, in the summer of 2011. Atikamekw is one of Quebec's First Nations, nicknamed "the people of the bark" because of their skill in crafting birch bark objects. They are also known...

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Projects

Projects (2)
Project
The Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking (Taylor) at Tulane University together with the The Pluriversal Design Special Interest Group of the Design Research Society (DRS) invite you to join us in jointly reimagining a world of many centers. We are co-hosting a virtual un-conference and writing on June 4, 2020 to encourage conversations around shifting centers, methods, epistemologies and ontologies. We invite you to pivot the discussion of decolonization from an academic critical perspective to a creative and generative one: What does a world in which many worlds fit look like? What is needed to create this reality? Who is needed to create this? How does it operate? Western Europe and, subsequently, North America have been viewed as the main focus of what is good, innovative and desirable —namely The Center. The rest of the world and its countless cultures, worldviews, ways of knowing and ways of designing have been peripheral to the main narrative of the world. As the movement to decolonize design gains strength, more diverse voices have been featured on the stages of the Center—including, for example, Indigenous voices, more people of color, and more people from countries from the Global South (not just predominantly white men from the Global North). In short, the Center is slowly starting to include people who have been excluded from the main narrative of design. We believe, however, that the purpose of a radical design practice is not to fix the Center, but to help to create a world with multiple centers — in which many realities can co-exist. To refer to this world, we adopt the concept of the Pluriverse, proposed by Arturo Escobar (2017), inspired by a Zapatista dictum, that refers to a “world where many worlds fit”. The Pluriverse does not only refer to the immense diversity of worlds—of diverse ontologies and epistemologies— available on our planet; but also to the fact that these multiple worlds have been shaped and harnessed, oppressed and suppressed by the scientific, technological, and hegemonic forces of Colonialism and Modernity. In design literature, we see two different notions of the term design: design as problem-solving and design as world-creating. In the relationship between the Center and its so-called periphery, the first notion tends to be the most noticeable, emphasizing design to address societal challenges. Yet design, in its essence, is not only about making things “less bad”, but about making something new. Design can be defined as the ability to imagine what does not yet exist and to bring it into tangible reality (Nelson & Stolterman 2012). Conference Aims The aims of the conference are to: Nurture, cultivate and connect changemakers through the Pluriversal Design community Build and support a network of collaborators and allies with shared values Connect across disciplines in the work of decentering mainstream practices Share knowledge about how to decenter design practices Create space for scholars who are often invisible: to offer support, greater visibility and recognition Create conversations that are meaningful and generative Decolonize /deconstruct the conventional academic conference model