Design, Research and Feminism(s)

Track Chairs​

Ramia Mazé,

Laura Forlano,

Li Jonsson,

Kristina Lindström,

Åsa Ståhl,

As design research matures and interacts more extensively with other academic disciplines, design research communities are engaging more profoundly and reflexively with the nature of research itself and the particular “situated knowledges” (Haraway) of design and the design researcher. Criticality, in design research today, involves interrogation of the theories and methods through which we do research. While early varieties of ‘criticality’ in design research drew largely from Frankfurt School critical theories, feminist theories are increasingly prevalent as a critical modality in design research by attending to issues such as power, positionality, embodiment, relationality, materiality, territoriality and temporality.

The agency of critical approaches has been of particular concern in contemporary (feminist) critical approaches. Feminist theories assert that things can be different and can extend beyond analytic modalities into practice-based, interventionist and activist modalities to propose, materialize and experience how things may become “otherwise” (Petrescu; Schalk et al; Forlano et al). This opens up further dimensions among design and (feminist) critical theories. For example, exploring how things may become “otherwise” as an approach to design as a “worldmaking” practice may involve (non-)human perspectives on socio-ecological challenges or design work as ‘making-with’ to ‘stay with trouble’ rather than solutions (Haraway; Forlano et al).

  • With this, our track invite contributions exploring notions of criticality and, or, feminism in design research. Possible topics among others may include:
  • feminist perspectives on and approaches to knowledge-making and epistemologies in design research;
  • design research work as a critical (feminist, intersectional, decolonial, etc.) position and/or practice;
  • the agency of critical theory and/or critical practice, the research as activist;
  • feminist critical theories in design research as an expansion/elaboration/challenge to ‘critical design’ and speculative design;
  • cases of feminist design or design research practices, for example as speculative feminist fabulation and/or proposals of alternative futures and/or histories.

Indicative References:

Forlano, L, Ståhl, Å., Lindström, K., Jonsson, L., Mazé, M. (2016) Making, Mending and Growing in Feminist Speculative Fabulations: Design’s unfaithful daughters, ‘conversation’ in the Proceedings of DRS Design Research Society conference, Brighton, UK.

Haraway, D. (1988). Situated Knowledges: The science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective, Feminist Studies 14 (3): 575-599.

Haraway, D. (2016) Staying with the Trouble: Making kin in the Chthulucene (experimental futures). London: Duke University Press.

Petrescu, D. (ed) (2007) Altering Practices. London: Routledge.

Schalk, M. Kristiansson, T., and Mazé, R. (eds) (2007) Feminist Futures of Spatial Practice: Materialisms, Activisms, Dialogues, Pedagogies, Projections. Baunach, DE: Spurbuchverlag.