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Designs and Anthropologies

Frictions and Affinities

Edited by Keith M. Murphy and Eitan Y. Wilf, with an afterword by Arturo Escobar

The chapters in this captivating volume demonstrate the importance and power of design and the ubiquitous and forceful effects it has on human life within the study of anthropology. The scholars explore the interactions between anthropology and design through a cross-disciplinary approach, and while their approaches vary in how they specifically consider design, they are all centered around the design-and-anthropology relationship. The chapters look at anthropology for design, in which anthropological methods and concepts are mobilized in the design process; anthropology of design, in which design is positioned as an object of ethnographic inquiry and critique; and design for anthropology, in which anthropologists borrow concepts and practices from design to enhance traditional ethnographic forms. Collectively, the chapters argue that bringing design and anthropology together can transform both fields in more than one way and that to tease out the implications of using design to reimagine ethnography—and of using ethnography to reimagine design—we need to consider the historical specificity of their entanglements.

2021. 224 pp., 6 x 9, 4 graphs

Editors: Keith M. Murphy and Eitan Y. Wilf

Contributors: Alberto Corsín Jiménez, Arturo Escobar, Douglas R. Holmes, Lilly Irani, George E. Marcus, Lucy Suchman

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Designs and Anthropologies provides an essential field guide to the twin terms of its title, along with the now fevered zone of exchange between them. Richly varied and always insightful, its chapters combine into a plural account of aspiration and critique, with an occasional dash of disagreement to keep things lively. Or as the Post-it Note would have it: Must read!”
—Peter Redfield, University of Southern California, author of Life in Crisis: The Ethical Journey of Doctors Without Borders

Introduction: Of Three Configurations
Keith M. Murphy and Eitan Wilf

Chapter One. Border Thinking about Anthropologies/Designs
Lucy Suchman

Chapter Two. The Wrong Means to Misguided Ends: Corporate-Based Design, Streamlined Insights, and Anthropologists’ “Hyperdesire for Relevance”
Eitan Wilf

Chapter Three. Feeling, Action, and Speculative Value through Human-Centered Design
Lilly Irani

Chapter Four. Autonomia Ethnographica: Liberal Designs, Designs for Liberation, and the Liberation of Design
Alberto Corsín Jiménez

Chapter Five. The Kinship between Ethnography and Scenography: Design Proposals and Methods Working within Ethnographic Projects
George E. Marcus

Chapter Six. Form-Giving as Moral Mediation
Keith M. Murphy

Chapter Seven. Money Troubles: Designing a Bridge to the Ephemera of Expectations
Douglas R. Holmes

Afterword: Anthropology, Designing, and World-Making
Arturo Escobar

List of Contributors