April 3-4, 2019 in Seattle, Washington

A Symposium at the University of Washington, Seattle

Organizers: Sareeta AmruteAudrey DesjardinsAfroditi PsarraDaniela Rosner and Phillip Thurtle

Register at our eventbriteDirections, parking and transit information for campus.

The schedule for our symposium is just shaping up. Please check back for updates.

Wednesday, April 3rd

5:30-7:00 p.m. – Gould Hall Atrium or Walker Ames Room in Kane Hall.

Pre-lecture reception

7:30-9:00 p.m – Kane Hall, Room 130

Opening Panel on Memory and Place
Participants: Morehshin Allahyari, Trinh MaiSara Zewde

Moderator: Priya Frank (Seattle Art Museum)


Thursday, April 4th

8:30-9:00 a.m. – Breakfast at Gould Hall Atrium

9:00-9:30 a.m. – Gould Hall Atrium
Introduction from the symposium organizers

9:30-11:00 a.m. – Gould Hall Atrium
Keynotes followed by a combined Q&A.

Elizabeth Chin

Title: Trouble ahead, trouble behind: making design trouble from the applied to the speculative
Abstract: Design and anthropology have quite a bit in common in ways both good and bad. While anthropology has already engaged in its own crisis of conscience, design has yet to fully deal with its zest for colonialist, racist, and missionistic projects. I’ll talk about the ways that I’ve been exploring a range of approaches to doing design in ways that challenge what I call design normativity. In Haiti, my ongoing “applied” work experiments with culturally engaged ways to develop low cost STEAM/technology curricula in rural schools; another project has illustration undergraduates producing beautifully illustrated early literacy books that feature Haitian content and are written in Creole. Through the Laboratory of Speculative Ethnology, I have been experimenting with performative technologies inspired by Afro, Ethno and indigenous futurisms: installing Wakanda University at the 2018 Annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, and making such objects as the “Hands Up Don’t Shoot Glove,” “AfroGoPros” and the “Hip Hop Flavor Flave Oppositional Gaze Necklace.” Together, this work troubles multiple assumptions that plague dominant design thinking, practice, and theory. Rejecting elitist notions of craft, competency, aesthetics and materials, I am invested in facilitating Haitian kids to build their own computers for their school, using scavenged parts from the boatloads of used electronics that are shipped in from the U.S. , creating safe spaces for scholars of color within our national organization, and having fun while I do it. The Lab’s latest offering, “Becky Be Gone” spray, will be available for sampling, and for sale.

Kalani Young

Title: Constellations of Rebellion: Home, Makeshift Economies and Queer Indigeneity

“We not homeless. The State is homeless. This village is our home and this place is our birthright.”—villager at Pu’uhonua O Waianae, Titarella.

In Waianae, Hawai’i, and Seattle, Washington, the practice of tent city living offers important considerations for what it means to be alive, to be rebellious and to be close to the ‘āina (land/all that feeds and nourishes). This talk theorizes the radical possibilities of a “home-free” subjectivity that refuses to be anything “less.” Through ethnographic data collection and grounded theory (2014-2018), this work asks: One, how does an analysis of bare habitance, indigeneity, and rebellion enunciate the gendered potentiality for a counter-neoliberal insurgency? Two, how do the stories of tent city villagers from Seattle, Washington, and Waianae, Hawai’i, reconfigure cohabitation, direct action and Queer Indigeneity beyond the settler colony? And three, how and in what ways are maka’ainānā (people of the land) and ka poē honua (people of the earth) disrupting abandonment, unsettling sexualities, and decolonizing identity politics through makeshift economies of solidarity?

11:00-11:30 a.m. – Gould Hall Atrium
Coffee Break

11:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. – Gould Hall Atrium
Roundtable 1: Activism + Ordinary Ethics
Participants: Azzurra Cox, Gabriel Dattatreyan, Nia Easley, Sara Zewde
Facilitator: Sareeta Amrute

12:30-1:30 p.m. – Gould Hall Atrium

1:30-2:30 p.m. – Gould Hall Atrium
Round Table 2: Decolonization and the Nonhuman
Participants: Giulia TomaselloJuno Parrenas, Doenja Oogies, Sara Gonzalez
Facilitator: Daniela Rosner

2:30-2:45 p.m. – Gould Hall Atrium
Coffee Break

2:45-4:00 p.m. – Gould Hall Atrium
Working Session A: The Street Finds Its Own Uses, writing workshop
Facilitator: Nisi Shawl
Introduced by Regina Lee
When writing science fiction we run low-cost thought experiments. In the spirit of the famous line from cyberpunk author William Gibson, participants will envision and describe future environments and their denizens, focusing on unexpected uses and subversive connections between the world to come and its denizens. Visual prompts provided.

2:45-4:45 p.m. – Gould Hall Atrium
Working Session b: Prehispanic computers and science fiction ecologies workshop
Facilitator: Constanza Piña
This workshop will focus on Khipu, a collaborative work that Constanza Piña has been developing over the past year which consists on fabricating and sonifying an Incan khipu. The participants will familiarize themselves with the history of khipus as an prehispanic textile technology to store information and will fabricate a device that is capable of detecting invisible electromagnetic fields.

4:45-5:00 p.m. – Gould Hall Atrium
Coffee break

5:00-5:20pm – Gould Hall Atrium
Performance: Heidi Biggs 
Raquetball Score
This performance reflects on aspects of being gender non-binary through an experimental soundscape strategically collected from and created through playing a solo game of racquetball.

5:20-6:00 p.m. – Gould Hall Atrium
Sound Performance: Constanza Piña – Corazón de Robota
Sonic project comprised by handmade synthesizers, sequencers, drum machines, filters and distortions. These artifacts are created out of textiles, e-trash and chocolate boxes by incorporating error-prone materials and electronics. The soundscapes they generate are chaotic textures, feedback and random patterns that are time-based and explore the rhythmical dimensions of noise.

Fueled by the promise for innovation and social change, university design programs are more popular than ever. Within the academy, design has infiltrated not only the arts, where it has had considerable influence and longevity, but also departments of engineering and business where it promotes widespread forms of economic development and entrepreneurship. This narrative of empowerment through commerce brings with it underlying disjunctures between design’s rhetoric of plurality and the power structures design tends to reinforce. By separating their work of imaging futures from production work on the factory floor, and by reinforcing the idea that certain people and not others are more suited to the world-building activity associated with design, designers often further entrench the racial and socioeconomic inequalities they often seek to upend.

But how can we — as scholars, activists, artists, designers, engineers, etc. — imagine and do otherwise with and through design? What other pasts and futures might we open, narrate or recover? How might we shift the practice of design to focus on what has previously been marginalized or made invisible?

Event Sponsors: Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering, Division of Design, Simpson CenterComparative History of Ideas ProgramDxArtsNational Science Foundation.

To request disability accommodations, contact the Disability Services Office Coordinator: 543-6450 (voice) dso@u.washington.edu (e-mail)