ArticlePDF Available

What Is at Stake with Decolonizing Design? A Roundtable



This roundtable was conducted by the eight founding members of Decolonising Design Group in October 2017, using an online messaging platform. Each member approached design and decoloniality from different yet interrelating viewpoints, by threading their individual arguments with the preceding ones. The piece thus offers and travels through a variety of subject matter including politics of design, artificiality, modernity, Eurocentrism, capitalism, Indigenous Knowledge, pluriversality, continental philosophy, pedagogy, materiality, mobility, language, gender oppression, sexuality, and intersectionality.
Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at
Design and Culture
The Journal of the Design Studies Forum
ISSN: 1754-7075 (Print) 1754-7083 (Online) Journal homepage:
What Is at Stake with Decolonizing Design? A
Tristan Schultz, Danah Abdulla, Ahmed Ansari, Ece Canlı, Mahmoud
Keshavarz, Matthew Kiem, Luiza Prado de O. Martins & Pedro J.S. Vieira de
To cite this article: Tristan Schultz, Danah Abdulla, Ahmed Ansari, Ece Canlı, Mahmoud
Keshavarz, Matthew Kiem, Luiza Prado de O. Martins & Pedro J.S. Vieira de Oliveira (2018) What
Is at Stake with Decolonizing Design? A Roundtable, Design and Culture, 10:1, 81-101, DOI:
To link to this article:
Published online: 28 Feb 2018.
Submit your article to this journal
View related articles
View Crossmark data
81 Design and Culture
Vol. 10, No. 1, 81–101,
© 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
What Is at Stake with
Decolonizing Design?
A Roundtable
Tristan Schultz, Danah Abdulla,
Ahmed Ansari, Ece Canlı,
Mahmoud Keshavarz, Matthew Kiem,
Luiza Prado de O. Martins and
Pedro J.S. Vieira de Oliveira
ABSTRACT This roundtable was conducted by
the eight founding members of Decolonising Design
Group in October 2017, using an online messaging
platform. Each member approached design and deco-
loniality from different yet interrelating viewpoints, by
threading their individual arguments with the preced-
ing ones. The piece thus offers and travels through a
variety of subject matter including politics of design,
artificiality, modernity, Eurocentrism, capitalism, Indig-
enous Knowledge, pluriversality, continental philoso-
phy, pedagogy, materiality, mobility, language, gender
oppression, sexuality, and intersectionality.
KEYWORDS:Design Studies, decoloniality, ontological
designing, pluriversality, Global South
Tristan Schultz is an Aboriginal and
Australian designer, strategist, and
researcher examining intersections
between decolonial thinking, ontologi-
cal design, and sustainability. He holds
a B. Design, M. Design Futures (Hons)
and is a PhD Candidate, a lecturer in
the Design Program at QCA, Griffith
University, and founder of the design
practice Relative Creative.
Danah Abdulla is a designer, educator,
and researcher. Her research explores
design cultures and possibilities of
design education in the Arab world.
She is a Lecturer on the BA (Hons) De-
sign Management and Cultures at the
London College of Communication,
University of the Arts London.
Ahmed Ansari is a doctoral candidate
in Design Studies at Carnegie Mellon
University. He is currently working on
reconstructing a South Asian philo-
sophical genealogy of technics, and
tracing histories of design education
in Pakistan. He teaches seminar
courses in systems thinking, critical
and cultural theory, and philosophy of
technology at CMU.
Ece Canlı is a design researcher and
artist, investigating the relationship
between body politics and material
practices from a decolonial queer
feminist point of view. She recently
completed her PhD in the Design
program at University of Porto, fully
funded by Fundação para a Ciência e a
Tecnologia (FCT).
Mahmoud Keshavarz is a postdoctoral
researcher at the Engaging Vulnerabil-
ity Research Program, Department of
Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology,
Uppsala University. He has been a
Visiting Scholar at Parsons School of
Design and University of Gothenburg.
He is the author of The Design Politics
of the Passport: Materiality, Immo-
bility and Dissent, forthcoming with
Bloomsbury Academic.
T. Schultz et al.
82 Design and Culture
Matthew Kiem
Let’s begin by discussing what each of us understands to be at stake
in the idea of “decolonizing design.” In some of our private discussions
we have noted that the concept of “decolonization” is gaining currency
within the academy generally and in various ways throughout the field
of design. While I am sure most of us would agree that a growing
awareness of and interest in the issues associated with coloniality is
generally welcome, there is nevertheless a lot that hinges on the way
this occurs. Our conversations have included, for instance, a concern
with the tendency of political terms such as “decolonization” to be hol-
lowed out by a pluralistic mode of engagement (see Fry 2011).
Academics and designers are adept at mimicking the representa-
tional dimension of movements – “political or otherwise” – without nec-
essarily generating or supporting the substantive changes that political
concepts are designed to bring about. This is less a problem of individ-
ual failing than it is design of the institutions that we work for. In most
academic contexts, it is all too easy for people who possess a great
deal of cultural capital to make the token gesture of learning a new set
of terms or adding a few different texts or examples to the curriculum.
While change must begin somewhere – and token inclusion is perhaps
better than no inclusion at all – the problems connected to the con-
cepts of modernity/coloniality/decoloniality and, I would add – invoking
Tony Fry’s term – defuturing, demand a sense of purpose and dedica-
tion that implies a far more radical and substantive redesigning of the
dominant cultures of design practice, research, and education than
most people have been able to register or enact.
This problem is related to Cameron Tonkinwise’s (2015) critique of
the proliferation of qualified versions of design, which prompts us to
consider the utility of articulating the kind of difference represented in
“decolonizing design.” With this in mind, it is important to clarify how
“decolonizing design” aims at something quite different from an addi-
tive inclusion into Design Studies as it already exists. By my reading,
“decolonizing design” is not a “new” or an additional form of design but
a political project that takes design as such – including its theorization
– as both an object and medium of action. Considering this, it would
be a mistake to assume that “decolonizing design” represents some
kind of service offering, as though the field could undergo a procedure
by which the “bad” colonial bits could be isolated and removed without
disturbing the core business of what “design” and “Design Studies”
is supposedly all about. In this sense, “decolonizing design” is not a
question of improving the status quo but a question of learning to dif-
ferentiate between designs that facilitate the productivist drive towards
devaluing and appropriating human and non-human natures, and
designs that facilitate a process of delinking and redirection into other
modes of being/becoming.
As writers such as Angela Mitropoulos (2006) and Walter Mignolo
(2011) have said in their own ways, the political substance of this lies
less in the content of any discussion – a question of saying or includ-
ing the right things – than in the terms under which the discussion is
Matthew Kiem is a
Sydney-based designer,
researcher, and educator.
He has recently completed
his PhD at Western Sydney
University on the topic of
the Coloniality of Design.
His thesis examines the
meaning of ontologi-
cal designing in light of
decolonial thinking, with
a particular interest in the
settler colonial dynamics of
Luiza Prado de O. Martins
is a Brazilian researcher
and artist. Her work looks
at questions of gender,
technology, and the body.
She is one half of the artis-
tic research duo “A Parede”
and holds a PhD in Design
Research from the Univer-
sity of the Arts Berlin.
Pedro J.S. Vieira de Oliveira
is a Brazilian researcher
and artist in sound studies.
He holds a PhD in Design
Research from the Univer-
sity of the Arts Berlin, and
is one half of “A Parede.”
What Is at Stake with Decolonizing Design? A Roundtable
83 Design and Culture
conducted. In other words, it is a question of who controls, profits
from, or is protected (or not) by the ways in which intellectual and other
forms of re/production and consumption are organized. This intro-
duces an imperative to assert the difference of “decolonization” as a
specific and fundamentally radical political project vis-à-vis the “busi-
ness as usual” of the design and academic professions. Frantz Fanon
(1971, 27) for one was very clear on this point: insofar as it sets out
to change the “order of the world,” decolonization is “a programme of
complete disorder,” that is to say, something that seeks to challenge,
upset, and reconfigure modern/colonial institutions rather than fit com-
fortably within them. The imperative here is not so much to defend the
singular or ahistorical “truth” of “decolonizing design” but, rather, to
design meaningful material-symbolic change that is neither pacified nor
disabled by the colonial designs of academy.
Ahmed Ansari
I would agree with Matt insofar as “decolonizing design” is primarily
a political project, but then all projects and designs are, even when
they claim to be apolitical or politically neutral. However, I would like
to draw attention to the fact that we are engaged in this project as
designers, and therefore any engagement with articulating a relation
between decoloniality and design necessitates articulating the relation
in terms both poietic and praxical. For me, this means engaging with
the nature of what design practice helps bring into being. Design brings
into being new ontologies and ontological categories and their cor-
responding subjects and subjectivities. This occurs through the con-
struction of artifice and artificiality, which is inextricable from the fact of
our humanity, and is now both the medium we live in, determining the
nature of our existence on the planet, and the primary determinant of
our horizons insofar as we interpret our reality in the present and dream
about possible and plausible realities in our futures (Arendt 1958; Dilnot
In the canon of decolonial theory (Mignolo, Quijano, Grosfoguel, etc.),
the current incarnation of the project of continued Western coloniality
over the rest of the globe through the mechanisms of globalization and
neoliberalism, there is little attention to the development of artifice as
a necessary condition of modernity. In other words, decolonial theory
lacks any substantial theoretical reflection on the history of the artificial
as it developed after the Industrial Revolution from regionally bound,
culturally specific technical trajectories into a global technical system;
the role that artifice has played in giving shape to and sustaining and
perpetuating forms of colonial power; and the nature of the artificial
especially as it relates to ontological differentiation. Apart from Arturo
Escobar’s (2012) Notes on the Ontology of Design, Mignolo, Quijano,
and other decolonial scholars have instead traced histories of power.
As a result, designers have very little to go on in the way of thinking
about design’s relation to the problem of modernity.
T. Schultz et al.
84 Design and Culture
I would add that there has been some considerable work on moder-
nity, artificiality, and on specific manifestations of colonial power through
artifice in academic disciplines like material culture, anthropology, sci-
ence and technology studies, and development studies. But design
discourse has done little to incorporate these accounts. As I see it, the
present project of decolonizing design requires a threefold move. We
first need an account of the artificial and of the condition of artificiality,
an account which can explain the different sociotechnical trajectories
that various civilizations exhibit up until modernization through coloni-
alism and globalization. We must then situate this account in relation
to the problem of modernity and the modern world system, in order to
develop it into something that explains what the technical foundations
of modernity are. Finally, we can turn to the consideration of other,
possible artificials – of alternatives to the systems of technics we have
today. This is the nature of the project that I have undertaken over the
past few years.
This task cannot be undertaken solely through the lens of contem-
porary Western thought, even if this lineage of thought has problema-
tized the very modernity it birthed. It must be thought through looking
from the lens of the more marginal perspectives of: the ex-colonized
(i.e. new, hybrid subjects that so eagerly embrace globalization); the
extra-colonial, (i.e. those rare Indigenous peoples that live on the out-
skirts of the world-system and tenaciously preserve ways of being
that have otherwise died out in the world); and the subaltern castes
(i.e. those who have been “left behind” by modernity, never sharing
in the privileges and spoils of becoming modern while nevertheless
forming the living reserve that fuels the mechanisms of the neocolo-
nial world-system). To think beyond modernity from within modernity
is not an easy task. But it is only when we incorporate these marginal
perspectives into a reflection on the nature and history of modernity
and of artifice to try and understand how it is that plural cultures were
drawn into the binary of center and periphery, that we can then begin to
tackle the productive task, from each of those peripheries, of designing
plurally again.
Tristan Schultz
I too have noticed the currency of the term “decolonizing” being
reduced to a hollow gesture. I fear it is traveling in a similar direction to
the way the term “sustainability” was co-opted for neoliberalist means
in design. In the last few years, decolonizing practices and movements
have proliferated, with some fitting the kind of decolonizing design
praxis I would describe as a political ontological design of plurality for
sustainment, and others not. The latter are, at best, a token gesture
of learning a new set of terms. They perpetuate neoliberal globalizing
and homogenizing ambitions by pandering to an ontological elimination
design event of the technological colonization of imagination. Because
of the industrialization of memory through socio-communicative digi-
tal technologies, people’s abilities to imagine being otherwise is being
What Is at Stake with Decolonizing Design? A Roundtable
85 Design and Culture
eliminated (Escobar forthcoming; Fry 2012, 2017; Stiegler 2009; Virilio
2008, 2012).
There is currently not enough critical reflection on this in the inter-
rogation of coloniality in design, nor is there enough self-reflection on
the techno-mediating methods through which “decolonizing” design is
explored. In late 2016, I collected a list of invites and call for papers that
proposed decolonizing modernism, theology, computing, technology,
the arts, love, gender, and, of course, “all things.” There have been
several summer schools, book series, and efforts to decolonize design
thinking too. Of course, our own platform, decolonizing design, is part
of this phenomenon.
Arturo Escobar (2017) writes that the ontologically designing tech-
no-mediation of worlds has now become a question of survival for the
autonomy of all those people who never signed up to “being” cultur-
ally commodified universalized hyperrealities (Virilio 2012). This leads
me to wonder if we might use design education that takes seriously
the destruction of biophysical worlds (sustainable design, eco design)
as a model for design education that takes seriously the destruction
of human lifeworlds and autonomy from excessive techno-mediation.
Can design education take an ontological turn to squarely focus on
techno-mediations as they relate to designing autonomy and plurality
and to futuring? Decolonizing design, as Matt suggests, demands an
urgent recognition of the threat defuturing techno-mediation poses to
our sheer existence as a species (Fry 2017). All this amounts to a task
no smaller than locating how designers can be decolonized, enabling
an aptitude to prefigure, project, and future being human. It invokes a
politics no smaller than the Enlightenment, even though the hegemonic
ambitions of the Enlightenment are precisely what decoloniality must
This connects with Ahmed’s “threefold move” proposition. But I
would say that to situate problems in relation to modernity and con-
sider alternative systems to the technics we have today requires
breaking free of the rationalistic Cartesian worldview that colonizes all
of “our” minds and places us on a spectrum of ontologically condi-
tioned modern world system beings. As Boaventura de Sousa Santos
(2014) has noted, we are facing modern problems for which there are
no modern solutions. We lack the ability to organize thoughts in such
a way that we can comprehend, in different modalities of temporal and
spatial scale, our situatedness amongst a maelstrom of ontological plu-
rality. Even worse, we designers with our designerly tools, methods,
and mapping techniques risk un-mapping plurality. What I mean is we
risk doing the reverse of what Escobar (2015, 15) calls the mapping of
“multiple transition narratives and forms of activism … veritable cultural
and ecological transitions to different societal models, going beyond
strategies that offer anthropocene conditions as solutions,” by map-
ping social messiness into rationalist Cartesian and instrumental typol-
ogies of convenient commensurability to modern world-system minds.
Decolonizing design first requires unlearning defuturing mapping traps
in order to learn mapping relational worlds. This relates to Matt’s point
T. Schultz et al.
86 Design and Culture
about “learning to differentiate” relationally. As Auntie Mary Graham
(2017) speaks of Aboriginal relationality, from where she is located, as a
Koombumerri Aboriginal Elder (Australia), there is no Aboriginal equiva-
lent to the Cartesian notion of “I think therefore I am” but, if there were,
she says, it would be I am located therefore I am. For Mary, location –
or more poignantly Place – equals Dreaming. There are multiple Places
so there are multiple Dreamings, so there are multiple Laws that equal
multiple Logics that equal multiple Truths. All Perspectives (Truths) are
valid and reasonable. This is not relativism because there is still judg-
ment emanating out of a locality in a reciprocal relation with land, place,
ethics, balance, and autonomy. For me, this intelligible Aboriginal phi-
losophy is 65,000 years older than the core condition Tony Fry (2009)
argues for – a limitation of freedom within sustainment. Mapping and
amplifying the futuring and eliminating the defuturing techno-media-
tions and socio-technical systems performing on these kinds of Abo-
riginal relational worlds could be an immensely significant contribution
to decolonizing design because it is a contribution to futuring humans
(in all ontological pluralities) and the biophysical worlds upon which
humans depend.
Matthew Kiem
Tristan mentions the significance of distinguishing the concept of plu-
rality from both relativism and pluralism. This strikes me as a key part
of what decoloniality means as a mode of designing. In this regard, I
can appreciate something of Ahmed’s dissatisfaction with how decolo-
nial theorists have understated the significance of technics, particularly
as there is a specific way in which a designerly interest in the politics
of material-symbolic configurations forces important and inescapa-
ble questions of decision, direction, and relation. Indeed, I have often
wondered about the emphasis that decolonial thinkers have given to
questions of epistemology over ontology. I do not want to overwork this
distinction – it is after all but one of many ways of organizing (designing)
a line of questioning – but in the context of my interest in thinking about
ontological designing in light of decolonial thinking, it does strike me as
The largely ambivalent and sometimes hostile treatment that the
concept of ontology receives in the work of such thinkers as Dus-
sel (2003) and Maldonado-Torres (2007) is at least in part related to
the strong stance that Levinas took against aspects of Heidegger’s
thought that Levinas understood to be indivisible from Heidegger’s fas-
cist politics. Connecting the question of theory to politics and personal
relations in this way does nothing to undermine the significance of what
is it stake for either Levinas, Dussel, or Maldonado-Torres but, on the
contrary, provides a clue to what they are trying to accomplish through
the critique of concept that has otherwise been significant to theo-
rists of ontological designing (Willis 2006, n.d.), decoloniality (Escobar
2012), and Indigenous design philosophy (Sheehan 2004).
What Is at Stake with Decolonizing Design? A Roundtable
87 Design and Culture
In the face of these differing positions on some of the philosophical
fundamentals, I have found it useful to consider plurality as a mate-
rialist concept, that is to say, that plurality “is” and affects (designs)
“us” in excess of the representational terms through which it is thought
(Deleuze 1995, Sheehan 2004). This is not to say that ideas are not
important but that their agency is best understood in material terms
(Mellick Lopes 2005; Rooney 1989). Whereas the philosophical idealist
sees danger in the expression of a difference that refuses to fit within
(their materially specific) mode of configuring representational thought,
a materialist conception of plurality shows that political contestation
is grounded in the ways that things and relations are designed (Shee-
han 2004). While the question of distinguishing colonizing designs from
decolonizing designs is necessarily a question of situational and per-
spectival discernment, what I am trying to suggest here is that: 1) situa-
tional epistemologies/ontologies are relational, not relativist; and 2) the
question of the pluralism is an issue of anti-relational (colonial) design-
ing that can be addressed by learning to discern the presence and
possibility of designs for relational plurality. To my mind, these are the
terms by which the works of Indigenous philosophers such as Graham
and Sheehan show up as expert expressions of designing otherwise
and beyond the coloniality of knowledge, as opposed to having their
work rendered as exoticized targets of the pluralist desire for inclusion,
alias assimilation.
Ahmed Ansari
Matt’s observation that ontological questions are received with some-
what more suspicion in Latin American scholarship is interesting and,
perhaps regionally specific – I can certainly trace subtle but important
differences between the scholarship coming out of Central and South
America and, say, South and East Asian authors. I do think that the
very different ways in which colonialism arrived and then perpetuated
between various regions of the world have led to very different framings
of the problem of coloniality/modernity. This means that there is no one
approach to a decolonial politics but, as both of you have pointed out,
a plurality, many possible politics.
For example, unlike the first conquistadores in Latin America, who
arrived as military men backed by Spanish guns, cannons, and clergy,
the British and Dutch arrived as traders not conquerors in India, China,
or the Southeast Asian kingdoms. Nor did colonial conquest proceed
in the same way, one of the key differences being that there were no
mass genocides and subsequent displacements by white settlers or
extensive interbreeding between the settler and local populations (sub-
sequently, one finds racial hierarchies based on different genealogies
in Latin America, whereas these are noticeably absent in South Asia,
where ethnicity, religion, and caste still dominate social hierarchies).
One can theorize that this form of total rupture, this total break from
the Pre-Columbian past, has influenced the way that modern Latin
American postcolonial identity is framed and constructed. To drive the
T. Schultz et al.
88 Design and Culture
point home, colonialism and modernity mean different things to dif-
ferent peoples and cultures, and therefore lead to different questions,
concerns, and politics. The what you can reach to as the means of
constructing alternatives is also regionally and historically contingent:
can you reach back into a precolonial past, or is the rupture so great
that this is impossible; are there Indigenous ways of being in the pres-
ent that you can study, or have those cultures ceased to exist? It is
therefore imperative, I believe, that designers committed to a decolo-
nial politics do the work of delving into their own civilizational histories.
Moreover, it is worth noting that, in South and East Asian scholar-
ship, at least, both questions of ontology and technics have received
a great deal of attention, partly as a history of responses to European
continental philosophy, and particularly in the early twentieth century,
the German continental tradition, the influence of which on pan-Asian
thought has been, I think, greatly overlooked and underrated (for exam-
ple, Tetsuro Watsuji and Nishado Kitara and the Kyoto School were
responding directly to Heidegger in their theorizing Japanese phenom-
enology and technics). Like I’ve emphasized before, it’s not that this
work is missing – it is that it has received scant attention, especially
within the community of design historians and Design Studies scholars,
and this is because we do not have the equivalent of the highly spe-
cialized scholars in the humanities who can work in multiple languages
and immerse themselves in the histories and texts of different cultures.
This has always been one of the great failures of design history
and theory – unless both can reform themselves as disciplinary prac-
tices, training a new generation of scholars who will be able to recover,
derive, translate, and build canons that aren’t Anglo-European, I fear
that both design history and Design Studies will continue to be severely
constrained in their ability to offer useful prescriptions to feed into con-
temporary practice. As Clive and Tony have pointed out in Design and
The Question of History, design schools today only teach token history
courses that focus on individual movements and their aesthetics rather
than trying to build a nuanced understanding of how modern technical
systems came to mold and shape modern humans (Dilnot, Stewart,
and Fry 2015). It is therefore no surprise that design practice today is
like a headless chicken, flailing about, trying to reconcile its own struc-
tural complicity with mechanisms of the modern world-system with the
urgency of dealing with the monsters it has helped birth.
I would modify their assessment of the present situation by further
stating that practice is doomed to fail because the horizons of what it
knows are neither deep enough nor wide enough, i.e. it does not go
far enough back in time, nor does it span space and place. Design
practice has no alternatives because it lacks the very thing that makes
alternatives possible: the understanding of historical and contextual
difference. This is, in part, because of the failure of Design Studies
and design history in both informing practice as well as in widening,
deepening, and critiquing its horizons. We need to think beyond design
practice to what it can be other than what it is, but we cannot do this
What Is at Stake with Decolonizing Design? A Roundtable
89 Design and Culture
without a massive shift in making history and theory relevant again, and
in decolonizing Design Studies and design history.
Danah Abdulla
Matt and Tristan mention the risk of decolonizing design becoming
just another design descriptor and following the same route as sus-
tainability. This is important. Several months ago, while discussing my
involvement with Decolonising Design, someone said to me “I’m going
to decolonize my breakfast, it’s a word you can use in front of any-
thing.” The scene reminded me of a running joke we had in graduate
school when everyone was using the word “curate,” and one of my
colleagues once told me he was going to “curate” his breakfast. Are we
at the point where decolonizing is used as lightly as “curate?” Has the
term become some meaningless buzzword that can be thrown in front
of anything, emptying it of its urgency?
Our task is to make sure people understand decoloniality for what it
is: a subversion and transformation of Eurocentric thinking and knowl-
edge; a knowledge produced with and from rather than about. Why
then is this term not serious for others? I would like to question this.
The “doing good” movement in design (social design, design activism,
humanitarian design, etc.) has brought about an important question-
ing for designers and an interesting starting point, but has done very
little in the way of transforming design education, thinking, and prac-
tice. Despite these efforts and the newfound importance attached to
design, designers often remain uncritical service providers, and design
itself part of a competitive business strategy. The “doing good” move-
ment has contributed to what I call the morality aesthetic – a “style”
born out of corporate social responsibility and conscious consumption.
It means Adidas invites you to break the status quo, Ray Ban wants
you to pitch your world-changing ideas in their #Campaign4Change,
and Doc Martens calls on you to #Standforsomething. Other brands
are jumping on the moral purity bandwagon through action hashtags
and preachy copy. Like Tristan, I fear that decolonizing design is going
in this direction and becoming a synonym for “improving things.”
The morality aesthetic risks simplifying decoloniality and stripping it
of its criticality. Just imagine: “The Decolonizing Design Toolkit” (featur-
ing Venn diagrams, bite-size lines of inspiration, and witty one liners,
set in Champion and Bryant and poppy colors) provides a step-by-step
method on how to decolonize design. Or: “Now you too can Decolonize
Design in six weeks! Sign-up to our new class online.” Or: “Announc-
ing a two-week summer school where designers can decolonize their
designs. Location: an independent art college. Price: £2,000 without
accommodation or travel.” We must be careful not to move into what
Tuck and Yang (2012, 3) call the “too-easy adoption of decolonizing
discourse (making decolonization a metaphor).”
The danger of decolonization becoming a metaphor is that it will be
rendered obsolete. In the Global North, and specifically in the UK, most
T. Schultz et al.
90 Design and Culture
universities claim that statistically what they term “Black Asian and
Minority Ethnic (BME)” students underperform. Some argue for diver-
sifying the content, while most attempt to address the issue through
more tutorials and face-to-face time. However, the mere token inclu-
sion, as Matt says, is not addressing the causes of issues. Why are
these students not performing as well as others, and why do they fail
to connect with the content? It is not only a content issue, but also a
matter of who is teaching and how. Universities should not only look at
their content, but address their hiring practices by recruiting faculty that
better represents the students.
The morality aesthetic is now being implemented in design pro-
grams and design practice across the Global South. In the Arab
region for example, largely middle-class design students are looking
to “serve” the needs of poor communities composed of people with
very different backgrounds from their own, or designing for refugees,
where countries like Lebanon and Jordan have over 1 million refugees
living there. Designers aim to provide a “voice” for the disenfranchised,
using aid discourse, and maintaining dominance over the production
of knowledge by using these communities for their school projects.
These ideas and methods, disguised as “universal” have traveled, car-
rying with them the structures of Western thinking, and continuing to
reproduce the cycle where the Westernized universities are reliant on
knowledge produced elsewhere. The Westernized university features
the same curriculum, the same authors, and the same disciplinary divi-
sions that dominate universities in the West. These structures remain
unquestioned: as Grosfoguel (2013) says, they become “commonsen-
sical.” This unquestioning means ideas are copy-pasted into a curric-
ulum where knowledge and truth are masked as universalism, defined
by a canon composed of works of males from five Western countries
(Grosfoguel 2013), that represents 12 percent of the world’s popula-
tion. This is most clearly illustrated in the divisions of art history courses
where Westernized universities located in Arab countries have course
divisions such as “Islamic Art” and “History of Modern and Contempo-
rary Art.” Within design, we see the differentiation between “Typogra-
phy” and “Arabic Typography.” But are these Muslim cultures, beliefs,
and institutions, as Sami Zubaida (2011) asks, so alien that they require
special study and understanding? Why, then, is there a course in
“Arabic Typography” or “Islamic Art” within a university located in the
Arab world? Why is it not simply “Typography” or “Art History?”
I propose that to decolonize, we begin in the Westernized university,
where we can begin to think of an epistemic pluriversality rather than a
universal set of solutions. As Ahmed mentioned, we can not only “look
through the lens of contemporary Western thought.” We need to take
the epistemic traditions of the Global South seriously and begin to shift
the direction and decolonize “institutions appropriated by Eurocentred
modernity” (Grosfoguel 2013, 88).
What Is at Stake with Decolonizing Design? A Roundtable
91 Design and Culture
Mahmoud Keshavarz
For me the urge to think decoloniality starts from two very specific and
intertwined premises – my personal trajectory and my work trajectory.
I will start with the first because I believe it is important for us in Decol-
onising Design to clarify how we have arrived at this point, in feeling
the urge to start this platform of intellectual exchange and discussion.
My working and thinking has been primarily inspired by continental
Western philosophy. I am trained in industrial design and grew up in
Iran during the reformist era. This post-revolution era was defined by a
series of student, feminist, and worker movements. Many newspapers
were dominated by liberal agendas, and a number of Western liberal
and continental philosophers were invited to give lectures. Their works
were largely translated and published. Sometimes there was more than
one translation of the same book of philosophy being published in one
year! As time passed, New Left philosophers were also translated. The-
oretical works produced in Europe shaped my perspectives on politics
at the same time that I was trying to make sense of the street politics
and how “ordinary” people push their politics in everyday life in Iran
(Bayat 2013).
When I was in Iran, I read primarily Western thinkers. Later, when I
moved to Sweden, I read primarily non-Western writers. This experience
is not entirely unique. Famously, when Frantz Fanon, a middle-class
Martinican, went to Paris to continue his studies, he was struck by an
encounter which later would form the basis for one of his chapters in
Black Skin, White Masks. After completing his studies in Lyon, Fanon
was boarding a train to Paris and noticed a little white boy who stares
at him and tells his mother: “Mamma, look! A negro. I am freightened,”
[sic] and the woman turns towards Fanon: “Take no notice, sir, he does
not know that you are as civilized as we …” (Fanon 1986 [1952], 111).
For Fanon, this encounter points to different levels of racism as a struc-
tural drive as well as a product of colonialism and the benefits and priv-
ileges it provides for certain groups in the world. Fanon tells this story
to locate his body in a world that bars him from participating in it in the
way he desires or imagines. To be part of French society, he must either
mimic the white body or behave like a black man as construed by
French colonialism’s social imaginary. Fanon (1986 [1952], 109) writes:
“I came into the world imbued with the will to find a meaning in things
… and then I found that I was an object in the midst of other objects.”
What’s more, I was struck by Fanon’s willingness to share this personal
experience. Such stories and lived experiences were missing from the
majority of the Western scholars I had been reading. While living in
Europe, I had a hard time understanding universal analysis and theori-
zation of white Western scholars. Often posed as universal facts with-
out bodily locations, these epistemologies persistently locate the other
while failing to account for the geographical, historical, and corporal
locations of the producers. Migration pushed me to read scholars who
constantly locate themselves in the world. This was my personal path.
My research has also shaped my trajectory. My doctoral research
project explored the material practices that shape and are shaped by
T. Schultz et al.
92 Design and Culture
conditions of undocumentedness, conditions of being deprived of the
basic civil rights due to lack of residential permits or not having the
“right” papers in crossing borders, and residing in a territory. My interest
was to locate design as a specific historical and material practice that
produces violent conditions of mobility and, consequently, immobility
and undocumentedness. It seems imperative to think of the colonial
legacies of migration, of how the current understanding and policies
around migration are shaped by various colonial practices around
organization of mobility. However, and surprisingly, there are very few
works addressing the coloniality of the politics of movement and mobil-
ity. This is due to a form of “methodological nationalism” (Glick Schiller
and Wimmer 2002) being embedded in social sciences as a specific
strand of the Enlightenment. Such an attitude dominant in much of
the scholarship produced by Western institutions tackles the issues of
migration and mobility as an incoming phenomenon. This happens by
taking the nation-state or recently a more expansive nation-state (the
European Union) as the given territory from which others, their acts and
agency can be interpreted. For instance, writers in the Global North
have produced a massive body of knowledge about “why they come
here.” This perspective positions the institutions and their research-
ers at the center of knowledge production. This formulation selectively
highlights the act of coming here as the focus of research on non-white
bodies, thus producing knowledge by and for white institutions. But
in reality, the process of migration contains various localities, simulta-
neous leaving and arriving, transition and transformation. Others have
noted the coloniality of knowledge, and it is indeed true that certain
epistemologies designed and continue to design themselves out of his-
tory, reserving a high ground from which other epistemologies can be
seen, compared, judged, and interpreted.
As I was finishing my research, I realized that discussing the poli-
tics of design and the design of politics without discussing their colo-
nial histories is a partial project. While it is important to account for
how design and designing have shaped the way in which Europe and
European citizens assume certain bodies as “legal” border crossers
and others as “semi-legal” or “illegal” border crossers, it is also urgent
to consider whose design (i.e. from what time and position and from
where) has made and sustained the current hegemonic order of move-
ment. Think, for example, of the Western notion of design as a task
of “problem-solving.” This idea assumes a universal truth in address-
ing the complexity of the world as a series of problems to be solved.
Moreover, it assumes the position of center for itself as given, and
approaches other epistemologies from that given center, trying at best
to collaborate with or at worst to assimilate them.
Pedro Oliveira
I see the necessity of a decolonizing ethos within design as a process
of accounting, first and foremost, for the historicizing of the field itself.
The world as problem, as Mahmoud notes, which is to be “solved”
What Is at Stake with Decolonizing Design? A Roundtable
93 Design and Culture
from a single, universal “locus of enunciation” (Mignolo 2011), must
be problematized in itself. Such a pre-packaging and systematization
of complexity in terms that might be tackled by a single approach of
“making” or “thinking through making” assumes a “solvability” which
is immediately assigned to a mode of shaping the world into a certain
“order”: designing (which places practices stemming from industrial
development as its starting point). If we recontextualize the emergence
of design as a discipline within the wealth accumulated by and through
the invasion and pillage of land and its resources, the erasure of Indig-
enous peoples and their cultures, and the forced displacement of
populations and their resignification as commodities, we grasp a fuller
understanding of the worldview promoted by designerly discourse. I
believe that a decolonizing practice begs to directly challenge what it
means to act within a set of skills, methods, and research imperatives
that, by definition, stem from this colonial framework. A decolonizing
ontological framework must see design as a socio-technical mecha-
nism of inquiry, re-enunciation, and re-narration. It is a project of look-
ing back and re-framing certain material practices, and also a project of
understanding the relationality of things beyond their mere objecthood.
For me, this brings into the fore the need to position decolonizing
design as a doing in both praxical and poietic terms (to recall Ahmed’s
point). What exactly this doing entails needs to be articulated from dif-
ferent standpoints. The first is to think of the designing of time: this
process unfolds slowly and as a constant struggle, without necessar-
ily reaching a “pivotal point” of a “decolonial” or “decolonized” design
(Dilnot, Stewart, and Fry 2015). A decolonizing project dwells on time
and moves at a different pace. It rejects the impositions of neoliberal
academia and the colonial framework of result-driven, well-defined,
problem-solving design. This, I think, is why we refer to it as “decol-
onizing” design rather than “decolonial” design. The term suggests a
process, a movement without a set ending point.
The second element of this doing follows from the first. It entails
decolonizing our roles in the spaces upon which we act, namely where
we teach, exchange, think, and practice design. The spaces from
which we think and practice design – spaces like the privileged site of
academia – must represent the interests of the population whose life is
most threatened by the designed engines of colonization. Decolonizing
design thus becomes a question of breaking down segregated spaces
within and beyond the classroom and academic circles, allowing for a
mundo donde quepan muchos mundos (a world where many worlds
fit)”, as the Zapatistas say (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional
1996). One way to do this is to confront the question of language, so
that we learn how to speak differently and develop new “designerly”
languages. There is a gap between decolonial theories and designerly
work that a project of decolonizing design should address, even if it ulti-
mately means rethinking and redesigning our relationship with design-
ing altogether. In other words, a project of decolonizing design speaks
from and fosters spaces in which many border languages emerge.
T. Schultz et al.
94 Design and Culture
Gloria Anzaldúa (1987, 2015) theorizes on the production of such
border languages. She observes that there cannot be a conversation
that seeks to decolonize our onto-epistemologies if the poetic, the
artistic, the spiritual, and the subjective are not accepted as cogent
methods of knowledge production. We need this in order to unlearn
and break down the engines of colonization beyond the theoretical and
academic. Anzaldúa (1987, 80) reminds us that “because we internal-
ize how our language has been used against us by the dominant cul-
ture, we use our language differences against each other.” In adapting
our language, in becoming fluent in several “wild tongues” (1987, 76),
we invite others in, exchange our different knowledges, and decolonize
discourses at the moment of their very enunciation.
Decolonizing is also a prescriptive doing. Paulo Freire reminds us that
prescription is a key element in the articulation of power. He argues that
“every prescription represents the imposition of one individual’s choice
upon another, transforming the consciousness of the person prescribed
to into one that conforms with the prescriber’s consciousness” (Freire
2000 [1970], 46–47). Design normalizes these prescriptions, and the
work of design, even when practiced with a supposedly “socially-
conscious” mindset, ultimately follows “the guidelines of the oppressor,”
teaching designers to assume the world as a well-defined set of prob-
lems to be solved. Instead, designers must understand that the very
notion of the “world-as-problem” is an assumption worth challenging.
I see decolonizing design as a project that promotes an ontological
change in how design is understood. Decolonizing design does not
aim to create an opposition between “decolonized” and “colonized”
designers or design practices. Rather, it promotes the ontological
changes that will allow us to design more time for ourselves in this
world. It is a project of incompleteness, of persistently un-learning and
re-learning to see the world. We must constantly interrogate not only
the field but also ourselves and our own practice; in so doing, we move
beyond inquiring who is offered “a seat at the table” (to use Solange
Knowles’ language; Knowles 2016) but also the very terms used to set
this “table.”
Tristan Schultz
Pedro notes that the project of decolonizing design dwells on time
and moves at a different pace, which rejects the impositions of neo-
liberal academia and the colonial framework of result-driven, well-de-
fined, problem-solving design. This is important. As Fry (2009) has
mentioned, the university can be traced back to the fifth century with
the Nalanda University in Patna, India, one of five Buddhist centers of
learning. From a Western perspective however, the university began in
Bologna and is less than 1,000 years old. Apart from a rich discussion
to be had here related to modernity appropriating the locus of the birth
of ideas and knowledge, what I would like to bring in to focus is the
sheer amount of time it took for the university as it is currently known to
mature and become a defuturing institution. Can paths shift such that
What Is at Stake with Decolonizing Design? A Roundtable
95 Design and Culture
the university becomes a futuring institution within the next hundred or
so years? There’s a tension here: on the one hand, the re-making of the
university, urgently needs to unfold; on the other, this remaking needs
to patiently unfold over an indefinite period of time.
An urgent patience in which people (particularly in the Global North)
require giving over to a condition beyond the modern rational appetite
to become, and give in to a becoming, an always moving, a work-
ing with what remains, while never arriving anywhere new. How can
we, as designers, balance this urgent patience with the imperative of
acting (designing or eliminating designs) swiftly toward the establish-
ment of ontological designs that perform directionally toward viable
human futures before “we” (humans) anthropocentrically accelerate
our demise?
Luiza Prado
Ahmed and Danah point out that we cannot look only through the lens
of contemporary Western thought. How are we, as scholars invested
in the decolonial project, immersed in the very structures we want to
challenge? How does this often manifest in insidious ways, and in our
own discourse?
In the struggle for decolonizing design, I believe it is fundamental
that we acknowledge and challenge the ways in which coloniality’s
hierarchical classification of subjectivities shapes our perception of
which subjects are permitted to enunciate and produce knowledge.
Ramón Grosfoguel (2011, 71) points out that the global gender hierar-
chy and the global race hierarchy established by coloniality cannot be
thought of separately; it is through the intersection of these facets of
the colonial project that white women come to “have a higher status
and access to resources than some men (of non-European origin).”
Maria Lugones (2007) argues that the emergence of a colonial/
modern gender system is foundational to the enactment of colonial
power. She identifies within this system a “light” side and a “dark” side.
The “light” side concerns itself with hegemonic constructions of gender
and sex/sexuality, and pertains to “the lives of white bourgeois men
and women” (2007, 206) while simultaneously constructing these very
categories. The “dark” side regulates the lives of those subjects that
exist outside or at the margins of the white, bourgeois, heteronorma-
tive patriarchy. Although both “light” and “dark” sides of the modern/
colonial gender system are violent, Lugones stresses that this violence
is manifested and enacted in fundamentally different ways. The gender
system positions all women as closer to the realm of nature than to
that of culture. White womanhood is associated with innocence and
respectability, and white women are charged with the task of per-
petuating the white race within the nuclear, heterosexual family, while
non-white womanhood is animalized, “marked as female but without
the characteristics of femininity” (2007, 202–203). Non-white women
thus come to be associated with sexual perversion, so validating the
rape and sexual exploitation of non-white women within the modern/
T. Schultz et al.
96 Design and Culture
colonial gender system. Inevitably, the violence imposed by this gender
system spills into how design engages with the body: its articulation
of modes of being made by and in the world – what Anne-Marie Willis
(2006) calls ontological designing – is, after all, also implicated in the
articulation of how gender is made, performed, and embodied in the
world. It is in provisional acts of materialization, of mattering (Ahmed
2008, 33) – a process inextricably entangled with the material world –
that gender comes into being, and “becomes worldly.”
Scholarship on precolonial social structures provides useful
glimpses beyond this modern/colonial gender system. Feminist scholar
Oyèrónḱ Oyěwùmí (1997), for instance, remarks that gender was not
a structuring principle in Yorùbá society prior to the contact with Euro-
pean colonizers: language and given names were gender neutral, and
there was no concept of opposing, binary, hierarchical genders. Yet,
European colonizers, presuming the universality of their own mode
of social organization, described Yorùbá society as if gender were,
indeed, perceived along patriarchal, dimorphic lines. This triggered
profound changes in Yorùbá society; it is in response to European bio-
logical determinism that the “body-reasoning” (Oyěwùmí 1997, 5) of
Yorùbás shifted, and bodies marked as feminine came to be coded as
hierarchically inferior, subaltern.
Lugones (2007, 188) reminds us, however, that such a profound
shift cannot occur without the strategic indifference that “men who
have been racialized as inferior, exhibit to the systematic violences
inflicted upon women of color,” and that the theorization of “global
domination continues to proceed as if no betrayals or collaborations
of this sort need to be acknowledged and resisted.” I bring this up
because I believe that decolonization must emerge from an engage-
ment with feminist and queer theories, and Lugones’ critique is unfor-
tunately very apt; the contributions of feminist scholars of color are
still often overlooked, even within our group. Modern/colonial gender
arrangements are also manifested in the ways in which we opt – and I
use this word with an acute awareness of its weight – to engage with
decolonial theories: with whose and which ideas we choose to engage,
and whose and which theories we choose to highlight in our work.
Who gets a seat at the table, as Pedro mentioned. Design historian
Cheryl Buckley (1986, 5) emphasizes that the division of labor within
Western design has historically been organized along the hegemonic
gender binary, where women are presumed to have “sex-specific skills”
that make them especially suited for work in the decorative arts, and in
fields associated with domesticity such as embroidery, weaving, knit-
ting, pottery, or dressmaking. On the other hand, fields like architecture
or graphic design have historically been male-dominated. At the famed
Bauhaus school, it was feared that the presence of women practi-
tioners in these fields could “weaken” these disciplines (Ray 2001).
This division of labor trickles down to the production of knowledge in
design, too: male theorists still enjoy disproportionate visibility, oppor-
tunities, and respect in design academia.
What Is at Stake with Decolonizing Design? A Roundtable
97 Design and Culture
It is not enough to shift our focus from a Northern- and Western-cen-
tric perspective to one that is Southern-centric. We must also address
the masculinist structures of power that govern knowledge production
in design. The work of decolonization requires a profound consider-
ation of how gender hierarchies established by coloniality affect our
perception of what counts as valid knowledge, and who generates that
knowledge. Decolonization is a daily practice, one that encourages us
to be critical of our own, preestablished modes of acting and think-
ing; one that requires us to challenge how we speak, to whom we are
speaking, and how. We must challenge our own standard citational
politics and reflect upon whose work we choose to highlight. A deco-
lonial politics must be a feminist politics; otherwise, we risk reinforcing
the same structures that we set out to deconstruct.
Ece Canlı
Mahmoud’s emphasis on personal trajectories resonates with Ahmed’s
suggestion of delving into our own complex civilizational histories. To
this I would add that we cannot thoroughly make sense of the ongo-
ing effects of coloniality and its material politics without digging into
our own cultural, historical, ancestral, and colonial pasts, and situating
our present selves within a greater temporal and geographical context.
Doing this helps us not only map relational worlds and subjectivities
(as Tristan says), but also uncover, contest, and even deconstruct a
myriad of identities introduced and stamped on us by the modern,
colonial, capitalist world system. This approach allows us to see how
our identities as, in Luiza’s words, hierarchically classified subjectivities
imposed by colonialism are continuously reinforced and reproduced
by material practices (aka designing). Therefore, a journey towards
one’s own individual and collective history is also imperative for design
researchers who seek to investigate socio-corpo-material conditions
constituted and perpetuated by coloniality. Queer feminist thinking has
taught us that this is not an easy task. It entails a great deal of self-
reflection, self-redirection, and incessantly challenging one’s own
knowledge, subjectivity, and privileges, as well as the epistemic and
ontic foundations from which these subjectivities derive. But it is worth
it if it allows us to undermine insidiously manifested partialities, immuni-
ties, and relations with various axes of power.
I stress the importance of this task to amplify Luiza’s points on how,
although one of the main premises of decoloniality is to overthrow the
hierarchical order that segregates bodies and knowledges, this order
persists at both material and discursive levels, threatening to under-
mine our decolonizing effort. One of the threats resides in the poli-
tics of citationality. In continental philosophy and in design scholarship
formed and taught by the West, “white men cite white men” (Ahmed
2014), excluding gendered, sexualized, and racialized bodies from the
main philosophical and methodological discussions (Clerke 2010).
But this cannot be tolerated in decolonial thought. If our desire is to
avoid the discriminatory traditions of knowledge-making, we should
T. Schultz et al.
98 Design and Culture
constantly retrace and reformulate our own reasoning about whose
voice is heard, whose knowledge is valid, and whose privileges cause
others’ oppressions.
Decolonizing design is also threatened by a tendency to inhabit,
see, and make the world through the lens of the binary logic (i.e. man/
woman, male/female, black/white, inferior/superior, primitive/civilized,
culture/nature, ontology/epistemology, West/East, etc.). A decolonial
approach must undermine stark oppositions that marginalize the sub-
jectivities and epistemic traditions inferiorized by modernity. A decolo-
nial approach must uncover other ways of being, such as in-between or
on the borderlands, as Pedro suggested. However, even we research-
ers with decolonial agendas tend to repeat these binaries. For exam-
ple, we regard the relationship between the colonized and the colonizer
as though there is one external malevolent colonizer from the Global
North and one exploited yet benign colonized of the Global South. The
story, as we know, is much more complicated. We cannot ignore the
complicities and power interests of the colonized, nor many different
forms of subjugation between the oppressor, oppressed and inter se,
especially when it comes to gendered and racialized bodies residing
at the lowest levels of the hierarchical power. In the prologue of the
documentary film Concerning Violence (Olsson 2014), Gayatri Spivak
similarly speaks of how gender oppression has been overlooked in the
discourse of decoloniality and how in the violent process of gendering,
the colonizer and the colonized act(ed) as allies. Her utterance evokes
similar queer, decolonial critiques of how Western-oriented gender and
sex categories have benefited not only the white colonizer man, but
also the colonized man who savors the privileges of heteropatriarchy
and heterosexism introduced to him (Lugones 2007; Oyewùmí 1997).
At the same time, the gendered and racialized body is dominated by
its Western counterparts (i.e. “whitestream” neoliberal queers, women,
feminists) through altruistic attempts to save the latter from “monstrous”
and “uncivilized” non-Western males (Petzen 2012). What’s more, by
dooming subaltern knowledges, agencies, and materialities to inferior
status, there is a perception that they must be validated by the West
(in this case Western gender and sexuality discourse). Otherwise, as
Danah mentioned, their struggles and wills are deemed illegitimate
(Abu-Lughod 2001). As decolonial researchers, we need to be aware
of if and how we trigger structures of dominance in our professional
and personal lives.
We might thus think of decolonizing design praxis, research, and
pedagogy not only as a form of “doing” (as Pedro suggested) but
also as form of “undoing,” as an act of passivating, unravelling and no
longer contributing to material-discursive configurations that privilege
certain bodies while oppressing and dehumanizing others. Such efforts
to undo can be understood as both a precondition for and conse-
quence of unlearning. And for us, as designers and researchers, this
unlearning can only arrive through “de-linking” not only from the ideas
and methods taught by the holders of material and epistemic power,
but also from the humanitarian design endeavors that other the others
What Is at Stake with Decolonizing Design? A Roundtable
99 Design and Culture
further and replace a multiplicity of voices with tokenism and diver-
sity. We cannot be freed from the material and onto-epistemological
subjugation of the Global North without constantly contesting our own
positionalities and privileges.
This, together with the previous accounts in this roundtable, might
answer one of Matt’s initial questions on how “decolonizing design”
would be different from being yet another additive category in Design
Studies. If we cannot fulfill the imperative tasks we have hitherto pro-
pounded, not only the term but also the effort of “decolonizing” is
doomed to be hallowed, forgotten, and replaced by other newcomer
labels for design.
Disclosure Statement
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.
Abu-Lughod, Lila. 2001. “Orientalism and Middle East Feminist Stud-
ies.” Feminist Studies 27 (1): 101–113.
Ahmed, Sara. 2008. “Open Forum Imaginary Prohibitions: Some Pre-
liminary Remarks on the Founding Gestures of the New Material-
ism.” European Journal of Women’s Studies 15 (1): 23–39.
Ahmed, Sara. 2014. “White Men.” Feministkilljoys (Blog), November 4.
Anzaldúa, Gloria. 1987. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza.
San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books.
Anzaldúa, Gloria. 2015. Light in the Dark/Luz En Lo Oscuro: Rewriting
Identity, Spirituality, Reality. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University
Arendt, Hannah. 1958. The Human Condition. Chicago: University of
Chicago Press.
Bayat, Asef. 2013. Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the
Middle East. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Buckley, Cheryl. 1986. “Made in Patriarchy: Toward a Feminist Analy-
sis of Women and Design.” Design Issues 3 (2): 3–14. https://doi.
Clerke, Teena. 2010. “Gender and Discipline: Publication Practices in
Design.” Journal of Writing in Creative Practice 3 (1): 63–78.
Deleuze, Gilles. 1995. Difference and Repetition. Translated by Paul
Patton. New York: Columbia University Press.
Dilnot, Clive. 2015. “The Artificial and What It Opens towards.” In
Design and the Question of History, edited by Clive Dilnot, Susan
Stewart and Tony Fry, 165–203. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
Dilnot, Clive, Susan, Stewart, and Tony Fry, eds. 2015. Design and the
Question of History. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
Dussel, Enrique. 2003. Philosophy of Liberation. Eugene: Wipf & Stock
T. Schultz et al.
100 Design and Culture
Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional. 1996. “Cuarta Declaración
de La Selva Lacandona.” EZLN.
Escobar, Arturo. 2012. “Notes on the Ontology of Design.” http://saw-
Escobar, Arturo. 2015. “Transiciones : A Space for Research and
Design for Transitions to the Pluriverse.” Design Philosophy Papers
13 (1): 13–23.
Escobar, Arturo. 2017. “Response: Design for/by [and from ] the
‘Global South.’.” Design Philosophy Papers 15 (1): 39–49.
Escobar, Arturo. Forthcoming. Designs for the Pluriverse: Radical Inter-
dependence, Autonomy, and the Making of Worlds. Durham, North
Carolina: Duke University Press. March 2018. https://www.dukeu-
Fanon, Frantz. 1971 (1961). The Wretched of the Earth. Harmond-
sworth, Middlesex: Penguin.
Fanon, Frantz. 1986 (1952). Black Skin, White Masks. New York: Grove
Freire, Paulo. 2000 (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Translated by
Myra Berman RamosNew York: Continuum.
Fry, Tony. 2009. Design Futuring: Sustainability, Ethics and New Prac-
tice. Oxford: Berg.
Fry, Tony. 2011. Design as Politics. Oxford, England: Berg.
Fry, Tony. 2012. Becoming Human by Design. London: Berg.
Fry, Tony. 2017. Remaking Cities: An Introduction to Urban Metrofitting.
New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
Glick Schiller, Nina, and Andreas Wimmer. 2002. “Methodological
Nationalism and beyond: Nation-State Building, Migration and
the Social Sciences.” Global Networks: A Journal of Transnational
Affairs 2 (4): 301–334. doi:10.1111/1471-0374.00043.
Graham, Mary. 2017. “Sovereignty of Indigenous Knowledge.” Sympo-
sium Talk presented at the Sovereignty of Indigenous Knowledge,
Ballina, New South Wales, Australia.
Grosfoguel, Ramón. 2011. “Decolonizing Post-Colonial Studies and
Paradigms of Political-Economy: Transmodernity, Decolonial Think-
ing, and Global Coloniality.” TRANSMODERNITY: Journal of Periph-
eral Cultural Production of the Luso-Hispanic World 1 (1). http://
Grosfoguel, Ramón. 2013. “The Structure of Knowledge in Western-
ized Universities: Epistemic Racism/Sexism and the Four Geno-
cides/Epistemicides of the Long 16th Century.” Human Architecture:
Journal of the Sociology of Self- Knowledge 11 (1): 73–90.
Knowles, Solange. 2016. A Seat at the Table. Record. Los Angeles:
Saint Records and Columbia Records.
Lugones, María. 2007. “Heterosexualism and the Colonial/Mod-
ern Gender System.” Hypatia 22 (1): 186–209.
What Is at Stake with Decolonizing Design? A Roundtable
101 Design and Culture
Maldonado-Torres, Nelson. 2007. “On the Coloniality of Being.”
Cultural Studies. 21 (2–3): 240–270.
Mellick Lopes, Abby. 2005. Ecology of the Image. PhD dissertation.
University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.
Mignolo, Walter. 2011. The Darker Side of Western Modernity: Global
Futures, Decolonial Options. London: Duke University Press.
Mitropoulos, Angela. 2006. “Precari-us.” _Mute_ 1 (29). http://www.
Olsson, Göran. 2014. Concerning Violence. Documentary. Dogwoof
Oyewùmí, Oyéronké. 1997. The Invention of Women: Making an
African Sense of Western Gender Discourses. Minneapolis: Univer-
sity of Minnesota Press.
Petzen, Jennifer. 2012. “Contesting Europe: A Call for an Anti-
Modern Sexual Politics.” European Journal of Women’s Studies 19
(1): 97–114.
Ray, Katerina Rüedi. 2001. “Bauhaus Hausfraus: Gender Formation in
Design Education.” Journal of Architectural Education 55 (2): 73–80.
Rooney, Ellen. 1989. Seductive Reasoning: Pluralism as the Problem-
atic of Contemporary Literary Theory. Ithaca, New York: Cornell Uni-
versity Press.
Sheehan, Norman. 2004. Indigenous Knowledge and Higher Edu-
cation. PhD dissertation. The University of Queensland, Brisbane,
Sousa de Santos, Boaventura. 2014. Epistemologies of the South:
Justice against Epistemicide. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers.
Stiegler, Bernard. 2009. Technics and Time 2: Disorientation. Stanford,
California: Stanford University Press.
Tonkinwise, Cameron. 2015. “Just Design: Being Dogmatic about
Defining Speculative Critical Design Future Fiction.” Cameron
Tonkinwise (Blog), August 21.
Tuck, Eve, and K. Wayne Yang. 2012. “Decolonization is Not a Meta-
phor.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 1 (1):1–40.
Virilio, Paul. 2008. Open Sky. Translated by Julie Rose. Radical Think-
ers. London: Verso.
Virilio, Paul. 2012. The Administration of Fear (Intervention #10). Trans-
lated by Ames Hodges and Bertrand Richard. Los Angeles: Semi-
Willis, Anne-Marie. 2006. “Ontological Designing — Laying the
Ground.” Design Philosophy Papers 4 (2): 69–92.
Willis, Anne-Marie. n.d. “Ontological Designing.” Design Philoso-
phy Papers. Accessed March 23, 2017. https://www.academia.
Zubaida, Sami. 2011. Beyond Islam: A New Understanding of the Mid-
dle East. London: I.B. Tauris.
... Usaha tersebut mesti dilakukan demi menciptakan generasi masa depan berkarakter, yang memahami jati diri bangsanya dan menciptakan anak yang unggul, mampu bersaing di dunia internasional (Hasan et al., 2022;Heise & Nance, 2021;Munte, 2018b;Sanasintani, 2020;Surya, 2013). Kurikulum sifatnya dinamis karena selalu berubah-ubah sesuai dengan perkembangan dan tantangan zaman.Semakin maju peradaban suatu bangsa, maka semakin berat pula tantangan yang dihadapinya (Fathurrochman et al., 2021;Kim et al., 2021;Schultz et al., 2018;Williams, 2011); (Inayati, 2022). Persaingan ilmu pengetahuan semakin gencar dilakukan oleh dunia internasional, sehingga Indonesia juga dituntut untuk dapat bersaing secara global demi mengangkat martabat bangsa. ...
Tujuan penelitian ini untuk melihat sejauh mana dan bagaimana problematika yang dihadapi guru dalam mengimplementasikan Kurikulum 2013 dan manifestasinya pada kurikulum merdeka di SDN 1 Ugang Sayu. Berdasarkan permasalahan di lapangan, peneliti menemukan kekurang-pahaman sinkronisasi antara konsep perencanaan pada kurikulum 2013 dan dalam pelaksanaan pembelajaran berdasar pada keahlian guru dalam profesionalitasnya kepada peserta didik. Selanjutnya peneliti menemukan tingkat keaktifan siswa belum merata antara yang satu dengan yang lain ketika bertemu dengan mata pelajaran di SD Negeri 1 Ugang Sayu. Penelitian ini merupakan penelitian kualitatif dengan teknik wawancara mendalam kepada subjek wawancara. Penelitian ini para pendidik telah dan terus berusaha mengimplementasikan kurikulum 2013 di SDN 1 Ugang Sayu. Sehingga, antara para pendidik dan peserta didik sama-sama saling menyesuaikan cara belajar dan mengajar tanpa perlu saling mensegregasi. Kemudian, peneliti menemukan harapan dalam kurikulum K13 yaitu memiliki kesamaan dalam hal pemberian aktivitas mandiri secara leluasa kepada peserta didik. Namun, bedanya terletak pada porsi masing-masing dalam perbedaan kurikulum K13 dan kurikulum merdeka.
... However, postcolonial theories have been chastised for failing to include marginalized viewpoints and are considered "Eurocentric critiques of Eurocentrism." 1 To break the "colonized mind-set," Schultz suggests embracing plurality in design and development by including the marginalized perspectives (that is, marginalized immigrants, indigenous communities and the global-south populations). 25 Therefore, the decolonial perspective in ICT4D strongly echoed notions of pluriversal design, 10,22 creating a multiplicity of voices and valuing local knowledge and inclusive participation. Western governments fund ICT4D research 26,28 and Western academics are heavily represented and among the most active participants in generating useful knowledge in ICT4D. ...
Full-text available
Seeking to maximize the value of information and communication technologies for development research.
... Among these e orts, I respect and subscribe to decolonizing design ( Abdulla et al. 2018;Kiem and Ansari 2021;Paim and Gisel 2021), a radical movement that tries to cut the ties between design and the Western modernity project. The goal is to open up the possibility of designing from di erent epistemologies, theoretical standpoints, and economic frameworks. ...
Design research played and still plays a significant role in the coloniality of making. By transforming natural commodities imported from former colonies into manufactured Things that are later exported back to such places, design research contributes to keeping the geopolitical divide between designing and making, which is so typical of colonialism. Nevertheless, counter-hegemonic efforts, such as the decolonizing design movement, seek to open up design research to support autonomous development in former colonies and their diaspora. While adding a dialectical-existential perspective to this movement, this chapter scrutinizes the colonial legacy of design research and proposes subverting it through anthropophagy and similar alter/native universals.
... Approaches that decentralise humans in design, can also decolonise practices. For instance, through the decolonising design movement (Tunstall, 2013) designers' roles could be reframed, such as being facilitators for alternative modes of being and becoming (Schultz et al., 2018), which could lead to more equal practices in design. ...
Full-text available
As a part of industrial mass production, the field of design has been deeply involved in the exploitation of natural resources. In design, better ways to approach the nonhuman-human relation are needed. In this article, we contribute by exploring how more-than-human perspectives can be used to engage with this relationship, and more specifically, by focusing on how the fields of design and craft relate to more-than-human worlds. Crafts are relevant as they are practices of making that preceded and exist beyond mass production. In design studies, more-than-human notions and posthumanist frameworks are still new. Although recent studies mention design in the context of more-than-human, they do not thoroughly integrate it within relationships between craft and design. Through positioning a more-than-human approach within the craft-design relationship, the design field can learn from and shift to a more equal understanding between humans and nonhumans. The article addresses this by describing emerging craft and design practices, and by providing textile examples. Non-western textiles and their motifs are given as example artefacts that consider traditional and Indigenous knowledge in more-than-human worlds. By looking at these motifs from more-than-human perspectives, we suggest that design and craft can deliver a new approach for addressing nonhumans in human-made things.
Full-text available
The Future of Design Education working group on Pluriversal Design — with members from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, South and Southeastern Asia, North America, Oceania, and Europe — developed recommendations for higher education design curricula. The group addresses the dominance of a Eurocentric design canon and worldwide colonization by a twentieth-century design monoculture grounded in the concept of universal human experience. Curricular recommendations honor Indigenous worlds and place-based ways of being, and chime with anthropologist Arturo Escobar’s premise that every community practices the design of itself, through participatory processes that are independent of experts. The authors posit that rather than a Cartesian rationalist perspective, the group advocates a relational view of situations in which the design responses to interdependent natural, social, economic, and technical systems, are specific to places and cultures. The recommendations assert a pluriversal design imperative in which multiple worldviews thrive and diverse lived experiences inform the entire field, as well as individual projects.
Full-text available
The manuscript discusses the limitations of applying AI in trend research platforms for the fashion system. This analysis intends to take a position within the emergent research topic of AI. Considering its ethical implications, we explore the opportunities of implementing AI to support trend research from a design-oriented perspective, realising the relationship between fashion and trends, which is central in shaping the future. Examples of AI-powered trend platforms evidence how valuable their insights are for strategic innovation. The analysis focuses on platforms that provide tailored services using AI and expert interpretation. Virtue ethics of technology serves as a useful framework to examine this topic, proposing a new set of virtues that respond to technology’s shaping of behaviour and its disadvantages. The risks of applying AI are many-fold; the consequences perpetuate power imbalances and social inequality. Proposing guidelines for enabling a responsible practice explores how to forge ethics into AI, creating a pluralised practice.
Conference Paper
In the environment of heightened neighborhood change, sparked by the pandemic and underlying social injustice, interdisciplinary approaches towards urban challenges are in dire need. Built environment professionals and Social Work practitioners have a unique opportunity to address these challenges through collaboration. This article highlights how educators in these fields can leverage existing best practices in collaboration and apply it to curricular design solutions focused on spatial justice.
InSURgência: revista de direitos e movimentos sociais. Brasília: IPDMS; PPGDH/UnB; Lumen Juris, vol. 1, n. 1, janeiro-junho de 2015, p. 214-241.
Design as Politics confronts the inadequacy of contemporary politics to deal with unsustainability. Current 'solutions' to unsustainability are analysed as utterly insufficient for dealing with the problems but, further than this, the book questions the very ability of democracy to deliver a sustainable future. Design as Politics argues that finding solutions to this problem, of which climate change is only one part, demands original and radical thinking. Rather than reverting to failed political ideologies, the book proposes a post-democratic politics. In this, Design occupies a major role, not as it is but as it could be if transformed into a powerful agent of change, a force to create and extend freedom. The book does no less than position Design as a vital form of political action.
The last in Tony Fry’s celebrated trilogy of books continues his radical rethinking of design. Becoming Human by Design’s provocative argument presents a revised reading of human ‘evolution’ centred on ontological design. Examining the relation of design to the nature of the human species - where the species came from, how it was created, what it became and its likely future - Fry asserts that current biological and social models of evolution are an insufficient explanation of how ‘we humans’ became what we are. Making a case for ontological design as an evolutionary agency, the book posits the relation between the formation of the world of human fabrication and the making of mankind itself as indivisible. It also functions as a provocation to rethink the fate of Homo sapiens, recognising that all species are finite and that the fate of humankind turns on a fundamental Darwinian principle - adapt or die. Fry considers the nature of adaptation, arguing that it will depend on an ability to think and design in new ways.
Sustainability is now a buzzword both among professionals and scholars. However, though climate change and resource depletion are now widely recognized by business as major challenges, and while new practices like ‘green design’ have emerged, efforts towards change remain weak and fragmented. Exposing these limitations, Design Futuring systematically presents ideas and methods for Design as an expanded ethical and professional practice. Design Futuring argues that responding to ethical, political, social and ecological concerns now requires a new type of practice that recognizes design’s importance in overcoming a world made unsustainable. Illustrated throughout with international case material, Design Futuring presents the author’s ground-breaking ideas in a coherent framework, focusing specifically on the ways in which concerns for ethics and sustainability can change the practice of Design for the twenty-first century. Design Futuring - a pathfinding text for the new era - extends far beyond Design courses and professional practice, and will also be invaluable to students and practitioners of Architecture, the Creative Arts, Business and Management.
Design and the Question of History is not a work of Design History. Rather, it is a mixture of mediation, advocacy and polemic that takes seriously the directive force of design as an historical actor in and upon the world. Understanding design as a shaper of worlds within which the political, ethical and historical character of human being is at stake, this text demands radically transformed notions of both design and history. Above all, the authors posit history as the generational site of the future. Blindness to history, it is suggested, blinds us both to possibility, and to the foreclosure of possibilities, enacted through our designing. The text is not a resolved, continuous work, presented through one voice. Rather, the three authors cut across each other, presenting readers with the task of disclosing, to themselves, the commonalities, repetitions and differences within the deployed arguments, issues, approaches and styles from which the text is constituted. This is a work of friendship, of solidarity in difference, an act of cultural politics. It invites the reader to take a position – it seeks engagement over agreement.