Design in the Borderlands  book cover
1st Edition

Design in the Borderlands

ISBN 9780415725194
Published July 10, 2014 by Routledge
208 Pages

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Book Description

This book makes a significant contribution to advancing post-geographic understandings of physical and virtual boundaries. It brings together the emergent theory of ‘border thinking’ with innovative thinking on design, and explores the recent discourse on decoloniality and globalism. From a variety of viewpoints, the topics engaged show how design was historically embedded in the structures of colonial imposition, and how it is implicated in more contemporary settings in the extension of ‘epistemological colonialism’.

The essays draw on perspectives from diverse geo-cultural and theoretical positions including architecture, design theory and history, sociology, critical theory and cultural studies. The authors are leading and emergent figures in their fields of study and practice, and the geographic scope of the chapters ranges across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South America, Asia, and the Pacific.

In recognition of the complexity of challenges that are now determining the future security of humanity, Design in the Borderlands aims to contribute to ‘thinking futures’ by adding to the increasingly significant debate between design, in the context of the history of Western modernity, and decolonial thought.

Table of Contents

1. Design in the Borderlands: an Introduction  2. China vs China: Conflict and Translation  3. Back to the Third World: the Greek Experience  4. Modernity and Design in the Arab World: Professional Identity and Social Responsibility  5. Timor-Leste: Unlearning in Order to Be  6. Urban Design for the Global South: Ontological Design in Practice  7. Africa: Designing as Existence  8. Counter-Mapping and Globalism  9. A Note from Brazil: Looking at the Production of Design Knowledge in Brazil  10. Looking from the Other Side of the Street: Youth, Participation and the Arts in the Edgelands of Urban Manchester  11. An Exchange: Questions from Tony Fry and Eleni Kalantidou and Answers from Walter Mignolo

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Eleni Kalantidou is a design psychologist, researcher and educator. She is a Lecturer on the Design Futures Master and Undergraduate Program at Griffith University, Australia. Eleni has a research background in psycho-sociology of space. She is the author of a number of articles and is currently working on a research publication on design psychology.

Tony Fry is a design theorist and an award-winning designer, writer and educator. He works in Australia and internationally. He established the Master of Design Futures Program and the undergraduate Design Futures Program at Griffith University, Australia. Tony is the author of ten books. His current writing project is on the future of the city.


In this trans-disciplinary, epistemically disobedient collection an international group of border thinkers reveals the coloniality of design as an overall perceptive mechanism grounded in Eurocentrism and hiding the global imperial claims. They radically decolonize design, opening up its creative dimensions as a tool of ontological transformation of the world and ourselves pointing toward transmodern multiple futures. - Madina Tlostanova, Full Professor, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration

Design in the Borderlands is a brave effort at enriching the geographies of design. Introducing border thinking to design studies, this collection of essays demonstrates the profound social and political significance of design along and across major issues like modernity, coloniality, sustainability, power and identity in and from a series of loci situated in the creases and at the edges of society, both locally and globally. - Professor Kjetil Fallan, University of Oslo

With its wide geographic scope, its contributions from experts in a range of disciplines, and the variance in theoretical positions, Design in the Borderlands is an exemplary illustration of border thinking in practice. - Specifier Magazine