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

Communities of Practice: Doing Design Differently

This paper examines the role of communities of practice in building and supporting critical alternatives to the conventional, dominant narratives and environments of mainstream design. Communities of practice are considered as one way of addressing some of the challenges of fear, overwhelm, and paralysis experienced by those in positions of relative privilege when pursuing anti-oppression and decolonising practice. This is illustrated through examples from the experience of the author (note dominant positionality below) working with communities of practice organised explicitly for cultivating alternatives to dominant, oppressive systems in design. The paper discusses the importance of practice as an ethic. It describes these communities as a place for creating and maintaining commitments, rehearsing the skills, relationships and ways of working necessary to contest dominant structures and making real alternative ways of working together. These descriptions seek to discourage methods, tools and answers for ‘how to’ decolonise or create anti-oppressive communities of practice, and encourages regular, situated and embedded practices, supported by community, attunement and reflection.

Communities of practice, decolonising, rehearsal, Dominant Design

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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