Design features amongst the most important set of practices shaping our contemporary worlds: our work, private, and public settings are, in fact, designed through and through. Because of this, design has recently acquired great importance in anthropology. In fact, a newly developed field called Design Anthropology has become an interesting crossroads of different people trying to address design as (1) a topic of scholarly and professional/applied interest, (2) a source of methodological inspiration, and (3) an object and space of intervention. Since the 1980s, several scholars have in fact analyzed different aspects of design ethnographically: for instance, its creative spaces and operations, the imagined and inscribed users of different design objects, together with their more or less creative or disputed uses and appropriations. Also, many ethnographers have tried to have an impact on the development of artefacts and their mediating role in work, cognitive and everyday life practices. Besides, the methods of design (from user studies to forms of collaborative and participatory design) are regularly scrutinized and sometimes imported into the discipline, searching to have an impact on the particular modes in which ethnography and anthropological research at large are carried out (as a means for social intervention, be it for the creation of public debate or collaborative forms of research). This course wishes to develop such concerns inquiring on different forms of anthropological engagement with design: from an anthropology of design, to the many forms in which anthropology could contribute to the processes and practices there being designed–be it in forms of anthropology for design, or in the ways in which anthropology could be practiced as a designerly affair–, together with the cross-fertilizing experiments in which an engagement with design could change, alter or inspire other forms of practicing anthropology through design. In sum, in a workshop-oriented manner, which includes hands-on exercises and material interventions, engaging in and through processes of making, this course will explore what forms of anthropology emerge at the crossroads of design studies, but also through and as design practice.
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