Accepted paper:

Anthropology by means of design in a Brazilian Indigenous Museum. Account of an ongoing experimentation.


Zoy Anastassakis (Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro)

Paper short abstract:

The paper presents a project through which design students works to foster preservation and promotion of indigenous cultures in Brazil. In doing so, they experiment on doing anthropology by means of design, transforming the way anthropology and design has been practiced in the Indigenous Museum.

Paper long abstract:

The paper presents an experience achieved through a partnership between the Superior School of Industrial Design, State University of Rio de Janeiro, and the Indigenous Museum, of Indigenous National Foundation. Through it, fifty undergraduate, master and doctoral design students are attending the museum weekly since August 2017, in order to develop researches and projects that fosters the museum main social commitment, namely, preservation and promotion of indigenous cultural heritage in Brazil that contribute to a greater awareness of the contemporaneity and importance of indigenous cultures. This project aims to try out the possibilities of an anthropolgy by means of design, main research theme of the Laboratory of Design and Anthropology, LaDA, a research group led by one of the teachers. The Indigenous Museum characterize itself as an institution strongly oriented by an anthropological approach. Design, which has been practiced there with excellence, has been taken as the final stage of the communication process, mere formalization of contents organized by ethnologists and linguists. This project proposes to transform the space for design in the museum, proposing an anthropology by means of design. After all, what design students develop are artifacts, communication, images, media. But in doing so they are being invited to do anthropology as well, thus reversing the emphases with which traditionally distinguishes the documentation of lived experience and exercises of speculative imagination. In the paper, I intend to present what has been developed by students, as well as theorize about DA from the account of this process still ongoing.

panel P062
Design Anthropology: Uniting experience and imagination in the midst of social and material transformation