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Cameron Tonkinwise: Creating visions of futures must involve thinking through the complexities - SpeculativeEdu · 31 min

Given that designing is about (1) discerning the difficulties that diverse peoples experience with the ways in which the world is currently designed, (2) seeing the possibility of radically new ways of living, but also (3) understanding the current conditions that constrain the realization of those possibilities, I expect all designers to be reading continuously a wide range of (1) anthropology, (2) (science) fiction, and (3) history (of technology). I think every design school still located within the lineage of 100 years of the Bauhaus urgently needs to decolonize itself, especially heeding what Yuk Hui has recently titled The Question Concerning Technology in China. I am finding Francois Jullien’s work very insightful in this regard. The decade I taught in the US exposed me, in ways I should have understood earlier, to structural racism and the rich political history of attempts to resist that. At CMU, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me was required reading for undergraduate design students. The Australia I returned to is just now starting to engage with the extent to which Indigenous perspectives require the long and thorough dismantling of all aspects of higher learning and research. Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu, which documents the extensively designed systems of Aboriginal nations in Australia prior to colonial invasion, is surprisingly becoming widely read here.

Foucault’s notion of a “dispositif”, of the way an ideological discourse manifests in designed objects and built environments, is essential for designers to realize that (a) they are only ever designing within wider ontological settings, and that (b) everything they design reinforces that ontology if it is not an explicit struggle to redirect it.