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Sympoietic Collaboratory

Research group The Sympoietic Collaboratory (SPC) brings together researchers to diversify thinking about more-than-human flourishing. Working with divergent theories, materials, methods and matters of concern, we imagine what flourishing looks like and could be. We decentre the human and consider what might be at stake for non-humankind, and the futures that can be fermented through thoughtful 'making with', or sympoiesis, when the situated expertise and experiences of the world is valued.

Grounded in embodied and participatory research through design (pRtD), research at the Sympoietic Collaboratory orients towards more-than-human food systems in order to enliven Donna Haraway’s concept of staying with the trouble.

As Haraway explains:

We – all of us on Terra – live in disturbing times, mixed-up times, troubling and turbid times.  The task is to become capable, with each other in all of our bumptious kinds, of response…. Our task is to make trouble, to stir up potent response to devastating events, as well as to settle troubled waters and rebuild quiet places…. Staying with the trouble requires learning to be truly present, not as a vanishing pivot between awful or Edenic pasts and apocalyptic or salvific futures, but as mortal critters entwined in myriad unfinished configurations of places, times, matters, meanings.

The Collaboratory works “to become capable of response” to the impacts of historical, contemporary, and imagined future food practices on world-making, what might be at stake and for whom, and how imaginaries matter.


  • To examine what is at stake in embodied engagements with the materiality of food practices and to transform more-than-human flourishing by connecting cultures, scales and imaginaries.
  • To develop sympoietic, embodied and participatory research through design competencies within the Umeå Institute of Design, and more broadly across the University and society.

We do this work on Sápmi Ubmeje – the unceded lands of the Sámi people – in the Swedish Arctic. Our researchers come from all over the world, are of diverse nationalities, genders and disciplinary orientations. This diversity is our strength.

Projects / Programmes

Head of research


Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Food, Nutrition and Culinary Science, Department of Molecular Biology, UmArts, Umeå Institute of Design

Research area

Latest update: 2024-01-22