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Feminist Tactics as Means to Re-Design Design

PhD project at Umeå Institute of Design at Umeå University.

The unequal treatment and discrimination of people because of various characteristics do not only take place on an interhuman level, but also manifest themselves in the design of spaces, objects and graphics. Design is therefore part of structures that either privilege or oppress people on basis of their gender, sexual orientation, financial circumstances, skin colour and origin, belief, (dis)abilities and other aspects.

Head of project

Anja Neidhardt
Doctoral student
E-mail
Email

Project overview

Project period:

2019-09-01 2025-08-31

Research subject

Design

Project description

My personal background in feminist activism in the design field informs my entry into critical thinking. Feminism is not only a counter-reaction and a means to resist oppressive societal structures. It also provides hands-on solutions and alternatives. Intersectional feminism offers a broad vision for the rights of all bodies, identities, voices and viewpoints, since it explores the differences between human beings and strives to empower the construction of more just futures.

In my research I explore feminist tactics that hold a potential to inform ways of re-designing the design discipline, either through design practice(s) or through the de- and reconstruction of institutions like design education or design museums. Protest archives for instance can be described as living spaces of and for exchange, equality and emancipation. They fill objects with new life, and their structures represent a chance for curators and institutions to understand their practice as feminist, antiracist, antihegemonial and decolonial.

I think that an intersectional feminist way of collecting and curating design can lead to innovation with value and functionality defined to the benefit of not only users, but also of all human beings involved in a product’s design, production, usage, repair, re-usage, disposal and recycling, as well as of animals and the environment in general. Instead of being accomplices of the oppressing systems, design museums can become allies of those who are currently oppressed.