W047
Design anthropology: intertwining different timelines, scales and movements

Convenors:
Wendy Gunn (Monash University)
Rachel Charlotte Smith (Aarhus University)
Ton Otto (University of Aarhus)
Chair:
Wendy Gunn
Discussant:
Tim Ingold
Location:
John Hume Lecture Theatre 4
Start time:
25 August, 2010 at 11:30
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

Keywords: complicity, improvisation, imagination, anthropological theory The aims of the workshop is to contribute towards long-term research goals of expanding understandings of ethnographic practice in academia and industry, and develop a research agenda for the emergent field of design anthropology.

Long abstract:

Design anthropology is an emergent field and is practiced in different ways depending upon one's methodological positioning. Researchers follow dynamic situations and social relations and are concerned with how people during their everyday activities perceive, create and transform their environments. This view challenges the idea that innovation only refers to the generation of 'new' things as being central to processes of social and economic change. In the moment-to-moment interaction between anthropologists and the people they work with, anthropologists make implicit understandings explicit. What the ethnographic method brings is contrast and relation and it opens up the taken for granted by bringing into the foreground what was in the background. Anthropological theory uses explicit contrast as a way of constructing meaningful difference. Design anthropology is a move to shift the focus from anthropological description to action. In methodological terms how does this influence the theory-practice relation in this emergent field? What role does anthropological theory play in Design Anthropology? and How is the validity of knowledge in Design Anthropology established? The aim of the workshop is to expand the notion of ethnographic practice and contribute towards a research agenda in design anthropology. Four main areas: 1. Designing communication and identities 2. Building relations between designing and using 3. Transforming organizations and institutions 4. Imagining possibilities instead of certainty. An outcome of the workshop is to develop a Design Anthropology anthology. The volume will provide an overview of the emergent field and be of interest to anthropology, design and engineering.