Pivot 2021 Virtual Conference July 22-23 2021
Dismantling Reassembling - tools for alternative futures

An Abundance of Tools: Attention and Care with theory

This paper argues for the value of sustained exploration and embedding of theoretical work and practices from diverse perspectives on the margins of dominant systems, such as radical Black and feminist thought, Indigenous research scholars, queer theorists, de- and post-colonial thought and critical, relational design practitioners. Practicing and becoming with these theories and their communities must be prioritised before and alongside any designing of new tools or systems. Learning from and extending this work into our everyday practice assists with recognising ways our thoughts and actions accommodate dominant, oppressive systems and can become a facilitator within our work. This includes recognising ingrained white saviorism, compulsion for efficiency and urgency, linear and task-oriented framing of collaboration and deep-seated regard for institutional recognition. It can facilitate how we use language, set a meeting agenda or respond to a colleague. Situating one’s positionality in relation to this body of work reveals and mitigates hubristic biases of how ‘design’ might dismantle and create alternatives to capitalist, patriarchal modernity. This paper describes the wealth offered by critical theory from the margins, as seen from a dominant positionality, and ways of engaging critical knowledges to support and challenge design research and practice in the everyday.

Decolonising, critical theory, positionality, incommensurability

About Kate McEntee

Kate McEntee is grateful to be joining Pivot this year from the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people where I live and the Bunurong people where I work, also known as Naarm or Melbourne, Australia. I am from northern Utah, the native land of the Eastern Shoshone and Goshute peoples. Raised in homogeneously white, small-town America, my worldview is deeply shaped by being white and nurtured within a culture, education and politics that celebrate proximity to Eurocentric influences, democratic ideals, Christian values, individualism and American exceptionalism. Through studying Religious Studies (BA) and working in interfaith dialog, and then studying Transdisciplinary Design (MFA) and working on research around race and white privilege, I have been increasingly exposed to the limitations and biases embedded in and through my identity and worldview. I am currently a PhD candidate in WonderLab, a co-design research lab at Monash University. My research explores creating decolonising shifts in social design practice and works within communities of practice in industry and academic settings. Previous to this PhD, I also worked in corporate creative consulting in San Francisco and New York, and in academic research and teaching in Australia.

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