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Anthropological Relocations and the Limits of Design

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date10/2011
JournalAnnual Review of Anthropology
Journal numbern/a
Volume40
Number of pages18
Pages1-18
Early online date29/06/11
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article takes as a touchstone the concept of location as it has been articulated through anthropology’s reflections on its history and positioning as a field, and in relation to shifting engagements with contemporary technoscientific, political, and ethical problems. A second touchstone is one specific anthropological relocation—that is, into worlds of professional technology design. With figures of location and design in play, I describe some perspicuous moments that proved both generative and problematic in my own experience of establishing terms of engagement between anthropology and design. Though design has been considered recently as a model for anthropology’s future, I argue instead that it is best positioned as a problematic object for an anthropology of the contemporary. In writing about design’s limits, my argument is that, like anthropology, design needs to acknowledge the specificities of its place, to locate itself as one (albeit multiple) figure and practice of transformation.