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Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

For a Special Issue on
Towards Pluriversality: Decolonising Design Research and Practices

Abstract deadline
01 December 2022

Manuscript deadline
01 June 2023

Cover image - CoDesign

Special Issue Editor(s)

Rachel Charlotte Smith, Aarhus University
[email protected]

Heike Winschiers-Theophilus, Heike Winschiers-Theophilus, Namibia University of Technology
[email protected]

Rogério Abreu de Paula, IBM Research Brazil
[email protected]

Tariq Zaman, University of Technology Sarawak
[email protected]

Daria Loi, Fishtail.ai, USA
[email protected]

Submit an ArticleVisit JournalArticles

Towards Pluriversality: Decolonising Design Research and Practices

In this special issue, we are calling for contributions to decolonisation and plurality in design. We are looking for both theoretical and methodological reflections on the position of participatory design and co-design and empirical cases that advance decolonising design practices. We encourage contributions on aspects of digital technologies connected to the contemporary challenges of decolonisation.

Amidst a global discourse on diversity, equity, and inclusion in all academic spheres as well as in industry, the conceptualisation and possible practices of decolonising design has become a matter of concern. The promotion of one-size-fits-all tech applications, including the generalisation and unquestioned transferability of design methods continues to suggest the idea of universality of design yet contemporary challenges of racial justice, economic inequality, migrations, political controls, and decision making pertaining to worldwide concerns, such as, health, safety and environmental sustainability urge the design and tech communities to address aspects of power, inclusion, and decoloniality in technology design research and practices (Smith et al. 2021).

In an attempt to address concerns of cross-cultural sensitivities and problematising power relations with users from colonised backgrounds, Irani et al (2010) introduced the concept of “Postcolonial Computing”. However, since then, postcolonial theories have been criticised for failing to include marginalised and indigenous perspectives thereby manifesting a eurocentric perspective (Ali 2016). Hence postcolonial approaches to design, even though well intended, inherently still often promote a neo-colonial design (Smith et al. 2021). Furthermore, a decolonial perspective points out that design practices are based on western epistemologies and are nevertheless deployed in non-western context without consideration of local knowledge systems (Bidwell 2016; Escobar 2015, 2018; Smith et al. 2020). As Schultz et al. (2018) argue, decolonisation can only be addressed through the inclusion of marginalised perspectives, such as, the previously colonised, indigenous communities, and the socio-economic disenfranchised. In this light, Escobar (2018) advocates to strive for a design which embraces “a world where many worlds fit”. Catering for such multiplicities of voices, knowledges and worlds, requires transcultural and transdisciplinary design research and practice practices for a radical transformation (Winschiers-Theophilus et al., 2019; Schultz et al. 2018).

Contemporary discourses of decolonisation are often disjoint from design research and practice, leaving methodological and theoretical gaps (Mainsah and Morrison 2014; Schultz et al. 2018; Smith et al. 2020; Tlostanova 2017). Although participatory and co-design approaches have a long history of addressing issues of socio-political injustices and means of empowerment, inclusion and mutual learning (Bødker et al. 2021, Brandt et al. 2012), empirical methods and techniques to realise pluriversality in design have not yet been identified and established (Smith et al. 2021). Equally, conceptualisations and practices of participatory and co-design in the global South have struggled with the legacy of western and eurocentric perspectives ingrained in design methods, tools and measurements in an effort to focus on local communities’ ways of thinking and doing (Winschiers-Theophilus & Bidwell, 2013; Bannon et al. 2018). Lazeem et al. (2021) suggests that methodological credibility and knowledge production of local researchers from the global South, has been continuously questioned and undermined by reviewers of western-dominated publication avenues.

In this call, we encourage contributions that, beyond merely including previously excluded participants, pay a deeper attention to the ontological entanglements and socio-cultural realities of participants’ past, present and future, their cultural knowledge and future imaginations. Informed by contemporary discourses of decolonisation and in particular decolonisation of design, we seek translations and transformations of visions into concrete methods, and strategies for pluriversal participation and knowledge production in design research and practice. The call is open to contributions in design research across many domains, while encouraging contributions on digital technologies.

With this special issue, we aim to bring forward a variety of perspectives, concepts, and practices from academics, activists, and practitioners with different backgrounds and experiences who are attempting to answer one or more of the following questions:

* What are state-of-the-art examples of decolonizing practices and epistemologies in/for contemporary co-design research and practice?
* What can we learn from co-design experiences of decolonising practices applied in diverse contexts; geographical, academic, corporate, not for profit?
* How are theoretical discourses of decolonisation integrated into concrete participatory practices, methodologies, or modes of knowledge production in the design research?
* What are the future trajectories of decolonising co-design practices for pluriversal approaches to design and technology?

Submission Instructions

1st December 2022: Submissions deadline for intentions to contribute
15th January 2023: Notification of relevance sent to authors
1st June 2023: submission of full papers
10st August 2023: post-review notification of result
15th October 2023: Deadline for submission of revised papers
1st December 2023: Final selected papers to production
March 2024: Publication of the Special Issue

Potential contributors should send an intention to contribute 500 – 1000 words that outlines the paper's content and a concise summary of the article’s research contributions. This document should also clarify how the authors’ intended submission relates to the overall scope and specific themes and issues of this special issue. The document should be sent by email to [email protected] in pdf format.

The special issue editorial team will provide a short review of the intention to contribute and will notify authors whether their work is in scope of the special issue call. Submissions within scope and with a potentially strong research contribution will be invited to submit a full paper.

Submissions of full papers (for invited authors)
Those authors who proceed past the intention to contribute phase will be invited to submit a full paper (maximum 7000 words including tables, references, captions, footnotes and endnotes) that will be subjected to the normal double-blind peer review process.

All full paper submissions should be made online at the CoDesign Manuscript Central site at: http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/ncdn. Authors should select submission to Special Issue “Towards Pluriversality” when uploading manuscripts. New users will need to create an account. Instructions on how to do this can be found on the same website. All published articles will undergo rigorous peer review based on initial guest editors screening and anonymous refereeing by independent expert referees.
Contact the guest editors at [email protected] with any questions.

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article

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