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Decolonizing Participatory Design: Memory Making in Namibia

Rachel Charlotte Smith, Heike Winschiers-Theophilus, Asnath Paula Kambunga, Sarala Krishnamurthy

Participatory Design (PD) approaches seem particularly well suited to contribute to debates over power and decolonization in design, yet often lack considerations of cultural situatedness and underlying ontological entanglements. In this paper we identify theoretical and methodological gaps in PD relating to contemporary discourses of decolonizing design. We integrate perspectives from PD and post-colonial discourse to explore how we can create more far-reaching examples of decolonizing design in practice. We present a study in which young Namibians are at the forefront of knowledge production on postcolonial memories and contribute to discussions of how decolonizing PD practices may be developed through contextualized, transdisciplinary, and transcultural approaches. In particular, we argue there is a need for a “safe space,” as well as continuing reflection on methods and de-linking of knowledge and epistemologies within the PD process itself.


PD Otherwise will be Pluriversal (Or it Won’t Be)

Pablo Calderón Salazar, Liesbeth Huybrechts

The following text proposes a narrative and argumentative path starting in the wetlands of the Caribbean coastal region of Colombia, where Orlando Fals Borda, more than 50 years ago, found himself in the search for appropriate tools and methods for studying the complex social situation of the communities living there. His development of PAR -a transformative and explicitly political research approach with communities- represented a radical critique and novel proposal for research in the social sciences. Such proposal opens a path for us to explore some examples of knowledge and research (building knowledge) otherwise such as ‘systematisation of experiences’ ‘epistemologies of the south’ and ‘situated knowledges’, as well as some design initiatives, networks and platforms otherwise that have emerged in recent years, such as ‘designs from the souths’, ‘decolonising design’, ‘depatriarchise design’, and ‘autonomous design’. We then build on these proposals of knowledge and design otherwise, to explain how they have influenced and informed our intervention in a specific case study of northern-European PD, which we will present as a practical example of such ideas. Our journey will end with a plea for contemporary PD to incorporate the political nature of the origins of PAR and the more contemporary concept of ‘pluriverse’ [13], so as to better articulate –not only its investigative- but also its transformative qualities.


A Hauntology of Participatory Speculation

Cally Gatehouse

In this paper I conduct a hauntological analysis of participatory speculation, within the context of a study into understanding the potential for increasing recognition of LGBT+ young people’s experiences of hate crime and hate incidents. Hauntology provides a means to further situate accounts of speculation in Participatory Design by sensitising us to the interplay of the virtual and the actual that enables us to expand our sense of the possible. Through understanding how participatory speculation is shaped by absent presences, this paper contributes to the discussion of post-solutionist practices in PD that foster care and responsibility across multiple sites and forms of participation in the face of issues that resist resolution. I conclude by considering by translating speculation into shared spaces of wonder, Participatory Design can foster ethical commitments that stay with the trouble.


Design Espontâneo Periférico da América Latina: uma forma de participação alternativa e subversiva

Pamela Marques, Marisa Cobbe Maass

A partir da observação de práticas de design espontâneo periférico em alguns países latino-americanos — como a gambiarra brasileira, o cacharreo colombiano e a desobediência tecnológica cubana — que partilham a escassez de acesso a recursos e ferramental, consequências relacionadas ao processo histórico semelhante de exploração e dominação europeia (colonial) e norte-americana (pós-colonial), o presente artigo pretende contribuir para o debate sobre a emergência de estudos do design como catalisador de transformação social em países periféricos com perspectiva emancipadora. A articulação ocorre mediante revisão bibliográfica sobre os principais conceitos abordados — escassez de recursos e pensamento decolonial na visão de autores como Milton Santos e Arturo Escobar — tendo como fio condutor a entrevista do designer colombiano Camilo Cantor para a edição brasileira do evento Urban Thinkers. O trabalho se trata, portanto, de um convite à reflexão sobre a condição atual da América Latina pelas marcas pulsantes do passado, para que se possa planejar outras formas de participação e outros futuros com posicionamento questionador das estruturas de poder dominantes tendo em vista alcançar a autonomia.

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