Accepted paper:

Arctic Design: Exploring innovative user communities on the geographic periphery


Svetlana Usenyuk-Kravchuk (Ural State University of Architecture and Art)
ilya Abramov (Institute of History and Archaeology, Ural branch RAS)

Paper short abstract:

Based on a fruitful interconnection between historiography and ethnography applied to severe Arctic settings, the study provides a valid example of what constitutes the successful user collective in a remote/periphery area.

Paper long abstract:

Although the Arctic region has become a multinational global issue relatively recently, a remarkable increase in human activity in this area is already a given reality rather than future prospect: current interventions have led to growth in industry, military, and tourism accompanied by a proliferation of transport, information and communication technologies. Today's relations with the Arctic can be described by the triad "extreme - conquest - technology," where extreme is a given reality and the key characteristic of the environment, conquest is a proactive action to prevail over the aggressive nature of the region, and technology is the means to implement this action.

Our data comes from the combination of historical and ethnographic investigations in the form of the "biographies of artifacts and practices / BoAP" approach (Hyysalo 2010, Hyysalo et al. 2016), into the technology and related practices of user inventiveness in the transport sector in the USSR/Russia. In the course of our work, we employ the concepts of "proximal design" (Usenyuk et al. 2016) and "hybrid collective" (Verhaegh et al. 2016) and put forward not only users' ability to adjust, repair and redesign their machines, but the very ability to create totally new kinds of technology and, eventually, to come up with enduring design principles without the participation of design professionals. To illustrate this, we present two case studies of collective tinkering in remote locations of the Russian North. Finally, we suggest specific features of innovative user communities and related infrastructure that become clearly visible and relevant in periphery/remote localities.

panel P106
Auto-anthropocenes: alternative uses of roads and vehicles