Power workshop at Nordes design conference

Power workshop, Nordes, AHO, Oslo, 1 July, 2017

Design + Power was the theme of Nordes 2017 design conference, hosted by AHO, Oslo. There was a great line up of keynote speakers, including Dori Tunstall, OCADU, Canada, the first black dean (this was highlighted by Professor Tunstall herself) of a design school. She spoke of the experience of decolonizing art and design conference, and set the red thread for a conference with many interesting contributions and discussions around  decolonization and the inherent necessity of challenging the modernist project of/by design. A question that ran through my head during the conference was whether we are now colonizing the term decolonizing. I was also thinking about how we can consider all human settlement on our planet as colonialism. My colleagues Åsa Ståhl and Sara Hyltén-Cavallius (Department of Design, Linnaeus University) and I ran a workshop entitled ‘How Can We Critically & Creatively Engage with Power Relations in Collaborative Design Research?’. We selected power ‘cruxes’ from the development project BOOST, and together with 25 participants we enacted these in front of a video camera, watched the film, and discussed how power relations, both at the level of the hands-on research situation, and in terms of the institutions and metanarratives that underpin and enable research, can be changed. This was a high risk workshop both to facilitate and participate in, and we were very grateful to participants for generous engagement. We came away with many insights, including the question of how to let silence and non-participation play a bigger role in collaborative research.

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