Damian White organizes conference on Design Activism and Social Nature
Damian White (Associate Professor, HPPS) and Cameron Tonkinwise (Chair, Design Thinking and Sustainability, School of Design Strategies, Parsons School of Design) have organized a mini conference entitled “Design, Design Activism and the Democratic Production of Social Natures” at the American Association of Geographers, New York City, Feb 24th-28th 2012. This event will explore the diverse boundary crossings that have occurred of late between design activism and radical social theories variously influenced by: Latour and Haraway, Thrift and Harvey, Deleuze and Massey. We will debate the tensions as well as possibilities that design activism and the idea of social design politics may generate for a politics of space and possibly a new politics of the environment.
Themes explored in the event will include:
(i) explorations of the utopian and dystopian geographies of historical and contemporary modes of eco-design and design activism –from counterculture ventures to contemporary forms of community design and architecture;
(ii) examples and discussions of urban social movements and eco-urban social movements and other design activist movements that have productively transformed or help rethink the relationship between the built environment, diverse ecologies, non humans and democracy;
(iii) sociological and geographical explorations of phenomena like the Transition Towns movement and forms of design politics/activism motivated by fetishized dystopia-avoidance;
(iv) implications for spatial, social and environmental justice of the new politics of design based on scenario based design; shareability.net; living labs; community design; the utopian possibilities of design beyond the object; ‘rights to the city’ activism;
(v) reflections on the relationships between design, design activism, the construction of democratic experiments (eg:Latour/Stengers/Gross) and ideas of alternative hedonism/the new politics of pleasure (Kate Soper);
(vi) historical and contemporary reflections on potential relations between the field of design, the writings of radical design theorists such as Tony Fry, John Thackara, Victor Margolin etc and discussions in geography around
‘the democratic production of nature’ and the politics of posthumanism/modernism.