Decolonizing Design

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Following a debate that I initiated on the Museum of Modern Art’s website for their exhibition Design & Violence on the nature and politics of critical design practice and the kinds of dystopian visions it offers, I was invited to write a short essay by Paola Antonelli for the MoMA project Design & Violence this year critiquing a graphic novel commissioned by the Australian government to deter would-be Afghan refugees from illegally trying to immigrate to Australia by sea, which was published in MoMA’s volume on the exhibition. The MoMA then hosted a symposium on critical design, Knotty Objects, at MIT, and I was invited to engage in a followup debate with Jamer Hunt of Parson’s on speculative design at Knotty Objects in July 2015.

As the debates on speculative design and its global relevance were going on, I was also heavily engaged in other conversations relating to culture, race and gender on the international Design PhD List, the largest online forum for PhD students and academics around the world. With a few colleagues who were writing and publishing very critically of the politics of design practice and also felt that they were being the target of racism and sexism on the lists and sidelined in mainstream academic discourse, we formed the Decolonizing Design Collective so that we could work and publish together as a group, and provide a platform for other designers working on critical issues to publish their research and find a voice.

So far, members of the collective have published in a special issue of ACM XRDS that I was guest editor on, hosted a symposium on intersectionality and design in Malmo, and an exhibition on post-critical design in Pittsburgh (which I co-curated and submitted work to), and we’re busy at working guest editing and contributing to an upcoming issue on decolonizing design of the journal Design and Culture and preparing to present our work at the 2017 Venice Biennale.

Critical Publications & Writing

Ansari, A., (2017), The Work of Design in the Age of Cultural Simulation, or, Decoloniality as Empty Signifier in Design

Ansari, A., Kandala, R., (2016), Interview: Jian Guan on Design & Innovation in China, ACM XRDS, June 2016 Issue

Ansari, A., Kandala, R., (2016), ACM XRDS, June 2016 Issue

Ansari, A., (2016), Politics & Method, Modes of Criticism, Vol 2

Ansari, A., (2016), Towards a Design of, from & with The Global South

Ansari, A., (2014), Operation Sovereign Borders (Australian Government Customs and Border Protection Service), Design & Violence, MoMA