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Speakers

Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Uppsala University, Sweden
Doctoral Student in History, University of Michigan

The histories of humanitarianism are not only the histories of national and international organizations, aid workers, and politicians who eagerly argue for protecting a universal idea of humanity. They are also histories of spaces, objects, vehicles, infrastructures, and technologies that both have facilitated humanitarian work and more importantly have shaped humanitarianism into a permanent mode of acting and being in the world. The question of how humanitarianism makes the emergency condition into a permanent mode of life has been frequently addressed by many scholars of humanitarianism. However, these permanent temporaries are derived from forces of material practices that render a site in need of a specific relief. Once the spatial, digital, or physical product oriented toward that relief is delivered, urgency and the political condition leading to the emergency disappears. What kind of magic is this that once a solution is materialized, the politics and histories that have shaped the problem disappears from the sight? This magic is called design.

This talk is part of Design History Now, a series exploring design histories that connect to our contemporary moment. The series brings together a selection of speakers who engage with design as a social, political and ecological agent, and consider how design is in turn shaped by these forces. The intention is to offer a vision of design history that is deeply critical in its approach, and in tune with its contemporary relevance and purpose.

*This is a webinar (online only). Register here.

Image: Victor Papanek and George Seeger’s Tin Can Radio, 1962.

In collaboration with:

Speakers

Mahmoud Keshavarz

Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Uppsala University, Sweden

Mahmoud Keshavarz is an Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Uppsala University, Sweden. He is author of The Design Politics of the Passport: Materiality, Immobility, and Dissent (Bloomsbury, 2019), co-editor of Seeing Like a Smuggler: Borders from Below (Pluto Press, 2022), and a founding member of Decolonizing Design.

Rukmini

Doctoral Student in History, University of Michigan
Rukmini is a PhD student in the Department of History at the University of Michigan. Her research interests lie in bringing together the history of public housing in India with the history of interiors, furnishing and middle-class consumption. Previously, she worked as a researcher in the field of Indian handloom textiles.