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DRSelects: Pluriversal SIG's Lesley-Ann Noel and Renata M. Leitão

DRSelects: Pluriversal SIG's Lesley-Ann Noel and Renata M. Leitão

Our latest DRSelects comes from Lesley-Ann Noel and Renata M. Leitão, co-convenors of the DRS' Pluriversal Design Special Interest Group. Read on to learn more about Pluriversal SIG and the convenors' reading suggestions from the DRS Digital Library! 


1. Please introduce yourself, your role in the DRS and your research.

LAN: My name is Lesley-Ann Noel. I’m a co-chair of the Pluriversal Design SIG and a convening committee member of EDSIG. My research focuses on epistemic equity, social equity, equity in education, and health equity. 

RL: My name is Renata M. Leitão, I’m co-convenor of the Pluriversal Design SIG. My research focuses on transforming the mindsets, narratives and paradigms that shape how we design and build the tangible world in which we live. I strive to build bridges between the modern world and the worlds of forest peoples that tend to be invisible. Many designers believe the worlds of indigenous and local populations are very distant from our realities (I say “our” because I am a designer). However, the metals in our electronics have been mined from their territories (we carry pieces of their territories with us), generating deforestation and often poisoning the ecosystems upon which their lives depend. In fact, most industrialized goods are connected with the destruction of ecosystems or the exploitation of people from the Global South. Therefore, we interact with their worlds every day as we wear clothes, work on computers, drive electric cars, and so on. But when we design and buy stuff, the harm to local peoples is absolutely invisible. I investigate the mindsets that enable such cognitive dissonance. On the other hand, I collaborate with forest peoples in the Amazon forest to make their worlds (experiences, ontologies, and knowledge systems) more visible.


2. Could you please give an introduction to your SIG, any recent events/outcomes and any upcoming events you’d like to share?

LAN: The Pluriversal Design SIG is well-known for the Pluriversal Design book club, where we highlight works by authors who support a pluriversal world view including authors from the Global South and the Global North, unpublished works, and more. It’s a small intimate event online where we build community. People from within the SIG propose works that they want to share, and they vary the presentation format 

RL: We propose books that can advance the discussions about the necessary transformation of design practices to honor and respect this planet’s web of life. This season, we are working with books that haven’t been translated into English and can contribute to expanding our thinking about pluriversality.


3. What are some of the benefits of being involved in the DRS through a SIG? How can those who are interested in becoming part of your SIG learn more?

LAN: The SIGS can be spaces to connect with people with similar interests outside your institution and the conferences. Sometimes our colleagues at our institutions may be great colleagues but have very different research interests, while conferences are great places to connect with other researchers but don’t provide a space for more focused meetings.  Creating a SIG or being part of the organizing committee of a SIG can also mean that you can lead in driving the intellectual development of a theme or area of focus in design research.  

RL: I believe the main benefit is being part of a community of like-minded people who are committed to social change. Those who are interested can join our forum on the DRS website and be informed of the events we organize.


Suggested papers from the DRS library.

LAN: I enjoy occasionally browsing the DRS library by collection. Here are three papers that I’d recommend. I read two by Gieben-Gamal and Kelly because I saw the authors present at a DRS conference. Gieben-Gamal’s (2021) reframing of ageing paper notes student shifts in attitudes throughout a specific course, is a short and interesting paper to remind us that ageing is not a phenomenon where people need to be fixed. Kelly (2020) examines the complexity of non-Indigenous engagement with Indigenous representation in design practice through the lens of ‘whiteness.’ I saw her present her very compelling paper at DRS 2020. Finally, I recommend a paper by Albarran Gonzalez and Malacate (2021) for the section on Albarran Gonzalez’s positionality and the proposal of Zapatismo as a guiding principle in design research. It’s a well-written paper presenting a glimpse of other worlds' design.

Gieben-Gamal, E.(2021) Reframing ageing in design education: A case study, in Bohemia, E., Nielsen, L.M., Pan, L., Börekçi, N.A.G.Z., Zhang, Y. (eds.), Learn X Design 2021: Engaging with challenges in design education, 24-26 September, Shandong University of Art & Design, Jinan, China.

Albarran Gonzalez, D.,and Malacate, T.(2021) Sjalel Lekil Kuxlejal: Mayan Weaving and Zapatismo in Design Research, in Leitão, R.M., Men, I., Noel, L-A., Lima, J., Meninato, T. (eds.), Pivot 2021: Dismantling/Reassembling, 22-23 July, Toronto, Canada.

Kelly, M. (2020) Whiteness in design practice: the need to prioritize process over artefact., in Boess, S., Cheung, M. and Cain, R. (eds.), Synergy - DRS International Conference 2020, 11-14 August, Held online.


RL: There are so many amazing papers in the DRS library. I am a big fan of the use of humor and playfulness to convey difficult, harsh, and uncomfortable information. It is time to overcome the separation between emotions and rationality. Therefore, I recommend two papers that utilize playfulness to provoke and entice us into a deeper reflection. At the last DRS, a paper from Ben Kirman, Oliver Bates, Carolynne Lord, and Hayley Alter (2022) about the gig economy made me laugh and almost cry at the same time. It’s impossible to be indifferent to it. I also recommend a paper from Kalyani Tupkary (2021) about the role of calendars in shaping our consciousness of temporality.

Kirman, B., Bates, O., Lord, C., and Alter, H. (2022) Thinking outside the bag: Worker-led speculation and the future of gig economy delivery platforms, in Lockton, D., Lenzi, S., Hekkert, P., Oak, A., Sádaba, J., Lloyd, P. (eds.), DRS2022: Bilbao, 25 June - 3 July, Bilbao, Spain.

Tupkary, K.(2021) Calendar Collective, in Leitão, R.M., Men, I., Noel, L-A., Lima, J., Meninato, T. (eds.), Pivot 2021: Dismantling/Reassembling, 22-23 July, Toronto, Canada.

 March 06, 2024