Decolonizing Design, Imagining Alternative Futures
Consider new visions of design theory and practice with author, anthropologist, and philosopher Arturo Escobar in conversation with RISD faculty, Namita Dharia, Jess Brown, Ramon Tejada, and Ijlal Muzaffar. Studio practices are explored through the lens of justice, ethics, and the environment. This conversation is planned in conjunction with the Museum's exhibit, Repair and Design Futures.
Co-sponsored by RISD’s Liberal Arts Division.
Free. Registration requested.
Join us for further discussion with Arturo Escobar and members of the RISD community at Designs for the Pluriverse on Friday, April 19, 12:30-2 pm in the galleries. Escobar continues to explore the concepts outlined in his book Designs for the Pluriverse: Radical Interdependence, Autonomy, and the Making of Worlds. He deeply considers how refiguring current design practices could lead to the creation of more just and sustainable social orders.
Arturo Escobar, Kenan Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, is a Research Associate, Culture, Memory, and Nation, Universidad del Valle, Cali, Columbia. His research interests include political ecology, ontological design, and the anthropology of development, social movements, and technoscience. He has worked with several Afro-Colombian social movements, including the Process of Black Communities (PCN). He is the author of Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World (1995, 2011), and Territories of Difference: Place, Movements, Life, Redes (2008); Sentipensar con la Tierra. Nuevas lecturas sobre desarrollo, territorio y diferencia (2014); Otro possible es possible: Caminando hacia las transiciones desde Anya Yala/Afro/Latino-America (2017); His publication, Designs for the Pluriverse: Radical Interdependence, Autonomy, and the Making of Worlds (2018), presents a new vision of design theory and practice aimed at channeling design's world-making capacity toward ways of being and doing that are deeply attuned to justice and the Earth.
Namita Dharia, RISD assistant professor, History, Philosophy + the Social Sciences, is a socio-cultural anthropologist and an architect who does research on urban South Asia. Her interest in urban areas developed during her studies and career as an architect and urban designer in India in the late ’90s. After working as an educator and an architectural journalist, she moved to study the broader social dynamics of construction worlds for her PhD research in anthropology. In her work, Dharia researches urban areas through a scalar methodology. She moves between the scale of a single individual in the city to that of objects and architectures to urban infrastructures and regions.
Jess Brown (RISD MID 2009), RISD assistant professor, Industrial Design, is an entertainer, activist, artist, and actor. As a musician in the Extraordinary Rendition Band (ERB) and leader of the Clam Jam Brass Band (a feminist brass party band), she is active in her local community and interested in race politics, social justice, youth education and the arts. Brown has spent the past five years working as a toy designer at Hasbro. As a multidisciplinary multimedia spectacle generator, Brown makes work focused on the intersection of race, activism and gender roles in television, media and pop culture.
Ijlal Muzaffar is an associate professor of Modern Architectural History at the Rhode Island School of Design. He received his PhD from MIT in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture and Art. He also holds a Master of Architecture from Princeton University and a BA in Mathematics and Physics from the University of Punjab. His work has appeared in edited volumes, biennale catalogues, and peer-reviewed journals like Grey room, Future Anterior, and Aggregate, an architectural history research collaborative and publishing platform of which he is also a founding member. He is currently working on two book projects. The first, titled The Periphery Within: Modern Architecture and the Making of the Third World, looks at how modern architects and planners played a critical role in shaping the discourse on Third World development and its associated structures of power after the Second World War. The second book, called Settling Dreams, charts the changing meaning of land as British colonial government laid out new canals in the Sindh desert (now in Pakistan) in1898 and transplanted small farmers (his family among them) from faraway lands to grow cotton for Manchester mills.
Ramon Tejada, RISD assistant professor, Graphic Design, is an independent Dominican-American designer and teacher based in Providence. He works in a hybrid design-teaching practice that focuses on collaborative design practices and not-for-profit and educational organizations. His recent design research interest lies in the areas of disruption of the Design Canon, inclusivity, diversity, collaboration and the expansion and openings of design narratives and languages beyond the “traditional” Westernized paradigm of design. He received an MFA in Performance Arts from Bennington College and an MFA in Graphic Design from Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.