Interventions, design, and the many modalities of future-oriented anthropology
Karen Waltorp (Aarhus University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper discusses the possibilities of research through interventions. Design Anthropology argues that ethnography and design is a collaboration with implications for the formation of future(s). We argue from two cases in the making: an IoT platform and designing a web platform-cum-exhibition.
Paper long abstract:
This paper discusses the possibilities and limits of research through interventions and co-creative projects aimed at outputs beyond the verbal and written. This interventionist stance has been integral to- and promoted by design anthropologists (Otto & Smith 2013, Pink et al. 2016), arguing that ethnography and design is a collaboration in/with implications for the formation of people's future(s). Based on ethnographic explorations of the experience of designing a platform for the Internet of Things market in Europe (Lanzeni) and filmmaking and designing a web platform-cum-exhibition in the ARTlife project: Articulations of Life among Afghans in Denmark (Waltorp), we question each other - What does the interventionist stance make possible? What does 'research-through-making-together' offer in comparison with more classic forms of participant observation and ethnographic fieldwork? We think of this as part of a 'Design Anthropology beyond a concern with stabilised objects, artefact and procedures...a way of doing anthropology in the midst of social and material transformation'. We argue from these two very different cases of 'works-in-the-making' which we will share in their current state of becoming.
Design Anthropology: Uniting experience and imagination in the midst of social and material transformation