Design Anthropology:
Critical Speculations

Online 16–17 March 2023

17.00–19.00 CET

12:00-2:00PM EDT

University of Applied Arts Vienna and The New School for Social Research, New York
Registration

Design Anthropology: Critical Speculations, is co-convened by Alison J. Clarke, Professor of Design History and Theory, University of Applied Arts Vienna and Shannon Mattern, Professor of Media & Art History at the University of Pennsylvania. A creative collaboration between the Papanek Foundation at the University of Applied Arts Vienna and the Anthropology department of the New School for Social Research, New York. As we face intersecting global crises of climate emergency and public health, financial inequalities and challenges to democratic process, the need for collaboration between anthropologists and designers to make conscientious interventions takes on a renewed urgency.  This international, transdisciplinary symposium draws on critical design politics of re-purposing design ‘for the real world’ by focusing on anthropological and design research methods that open up new epistemological and creative possibilities, further illuminating our lived experiences and imaginations. 

Programme

Day One | 16 March 2023 | 17.00-19.00 CET

Speculative Curatorship

17.00-17.10 CET 
Welcome and Introduction
Rector Gerald Bast, University of Applied Arts Vienna
Alison J. Clarke and Shannon Mattern


17.10-17.30 CET
Michelle D. Commander, Associate Director, Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery, New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, NYC


17.30-17.50 CET
Bodhi Chattopadhyay, University of Oslo, Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages
“From Futures to CoFutures” 
 


17.50-18.10 CET
Elizabeth Chin, Professor, ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena, California
“Speculative Curatorship Beyond Whiteness”


18.10-18.30 CET
Jonathan M. Square, Assistant Professor, School of Art and Design History and Theory, Parsons School of Design, NYC
“Envisioning the Afric-American Picture Gallery”
  


18.30-19.00 CET
 
Q&A Panel Discussion
 

Day Two | 17 March 2023 | 17.00-19.00 CET

Spatial Ecologies

17.00-17.10 CET  
Welcome and Introduction  
Alison J. Clarke and Shannon Mattern 


17.10-17.30 CET

Victor Buchli, Professor, Anthropology, University College London
Low Earth Orbit and the Material Culture of Perfectibility” 

David Jeevendrampillai, Research Fellow, Anthropology, University College London and the Institute of Advanced Studies
“Designing for the Moon; New Constellations of Body and Home”


17.30-17.50 CET

Nicole Cristi, PhD candidate, Anthropology, University College London
“Growing Materials and Cultivating Other Possible Worlds”    


17.50-18.10 CET

Elaine Gan, Professor, Science in Society Program, Wesleyan University, USA
“Designing With/For Change: Place As Time”  


18.10-18.30 CET

Brandi T. Summers, Associate Professor of Geography, University of California, Berkeley 
“Black City Futures”  


18.30-19.00 CET
 
Q&A Panel Discussion

Supported by Barbara Adams and Aryana Ghazi-Hessami at The New School and Nargess Khodabakhshi at the Papanek Foundation, University of Applied Arts Vienna.  

Speakers

Michelle D. Commander

Michelle D. Commander is Deputy Director of Research and Strategic Initiatives at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, New York.  Speaker, writer, educator and curator, she is the author of Afro-Atlantic Flight: Speculative Returns and the Black Fantastic and Avidly Reads Passages. Commander is editor of the collection Unsung: Unheralded Narratives of American Slavery & Abolition and series editor of the Schomburg Center's series with Penguin Classics. She recently served as consulting curator for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room. 

Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay

Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay is Associate Professor in Global Culture Studies at the University of Oslo, Norway. He leads the international research group CoFUTURES and is leader (PI) of two major research projects funded by the European and Norwegian Research Councils, which explore contemporary global futurisms movements from a transmedial perspective. Chattopadhyay runs the Holodeck, a state-of-the-art games research lab at UiO and is Imaginary College Fellow at the Center for Science and the Imagination, Arizona State University. Chattopadhyay is the recipient of the World Fantasy Award (2020), the Johannes H Berg Memorial Prize (2019), the Foundation Essay Prize (2017), and the Strange Horizons Readers’ Poll Award (2013).  

Elizabeth Chin

Elizabeth Chin is an anthropologist with a varied practice that includes performative scholarship, experimental ethnography, vernacular electronics, dance, and community engagement.  Recent publications have appeared in Feminist Anthropology and ICM Interactions. As editor in chief of American Anthropologist, she is dedicated to transparency and to practicing an ethic of care.  She is currently professor in the MFA program Media Design Practices at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. 

Jonathan M. Square

Jonathan M. Square is Assistant Professor of Black Visual Culture at Parsons School of Design, NYC. He was previously a lecturer in the Committee on the Degree in History and Literature at Harvard University and a fellow in the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He is curator of Past is Present: Black Artists Respond to the Complicated Histories of Slavery at the Herron School of Art and Design (2022-2023) and Afric-American Picture Gallery that opens at Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library in 2025. Square also runs the digital humanities project Fashioning the Self in Slavery and Freedom. 

Victor Buchli

Victor Buchli is PI of the ERC funded project: ETHNO-ISS and Professor of Anthropology at University College London, UK.  His research focuses on the new material culture and manufacturing economy emerging in Low Earth Orbit. Victor’s previous interests have been the anthropology of architecture and the material culture and architecture of utopian planning in the Soviet Union and Post-socialist Kazakhstan.  

David Jeevendrampillai

David Jeevendrampillai is an Anthropologist of Outer Space. His research focuses on emerging notions of planetary citizenship in particular reference to Earth Imagery from the International Space Station. He is a post-doctoral researcher on  ETHNO-ISS and is the Director of the Centre for Outer Space Studies at UCL. The themes of his research include, but are not limited to, citizenship, outer space, democracy, communities of knowledge, technology, digital and visual cultures.  

Nicole Cristi

Nicole Cristi is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at UCL and a researcher in material culture studies and design theory in Chile and Latin America. Her work focuses on the intersection of design/politics and the anthropology of technics; it explores design's making and production processes throughout the history of the discipline until today. Cristi is co-author of the book Resistencia Gráfica (LOM, 2016) and a member of the Centre for the Anthropology of Technics and Technodiversity (CATT). Her current research explores biofabrication practices in Chile, challenging the category of tecnología [technology] from situated practices of care and the co-activity between humans, microorganisms, technical objects, institutions and territory.

Elaine Gan

Elaine Gan is an artist-theorist and assistant professor at Wesleyan University, Science in Society Program. Research, creative practice, and teaching engage with the fields of feminist science & technology studies, multispecies anthropology, environmental/digital arts and humanities, and experimental media. Her transdisciplinary practice involves writing, drawing, installation, and time-based media to explore social relations and coordinations that emerge between species, machines, and landscapes, with a special interest in de/colonial botany, plants, and fungi. Gan is co-editor of an interdisciplinary anthology titled Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene (Minnesota Press, 2017) and director of the Multispecies Worldbuilding Lab.

Brandi T. Summers

Brandi T. Summers is associate professor of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research examines the relationship between and function of race, space, urban infrastructure, and architecture. Her book, Black in Place: The Spatial Aesthetics of Race in a Post-Chocolate City (UNC Press, 2019), explores how aesthetics and race converge to map blackness in Washington, D.C., and the way that competing notions of blackness structure economic relations and develop land in the gentrifying city. Summers has published several articles and essays that appear in both scholarly and popular publications, including New York Times, The Boston Globe, Urban Geography and Places Journal.