Design Anthropology in Participatory Design: From Ethnography to Anthropological Critique (Oct 2014, Namibia)

Date: 6 October 2014
Location: PDC2014, Windhoek, Namibia
Deadline for submission of position papers: UPDATED 28 July 2014

Workshop at PDC2014.

In this workshop we explore the opportunities of ethnography and design anthropology in Participatory Design (PD) as an approach to design in an increasingly global and digital world. Traditionally, ethnography has been used in PD to research real-life contexts and challenges, and as ways to involve people in defining user-needs and design opportunities. As the boundaries between physical, digital and hybrid spaces and experiences become increasingly blurred, so do conventional distinctions between research and design. The workshop invites participants in the field to explore opportunities of using design anthropology as a holistic and critical approach to societal challenges, and a way for anthropologists and designers to engage in design that extends beyond the empirical.

In the workshop we explore theoretical positionings and methodological approaches to ethnography and anthropology in PD. The following themes will be used to discuss relations between researchers and the Other, creating objects and contexts of design through design anthropologic approaches to societal challenges:

• Proximity versus Distance
• Understanding versus Emergence
• Empathy versus Critique
• Description versus Intervention
• Transdisciplinarity vs. Professional Boundaries

We welcome participants from all areas of research in PD, interested in exploring the role and position of ethnography and design anthropology in processes of participatory engagement and design. Especially we invite participants who are engaged in research through design, theoretical perspectives, and case studies relating to ethnography, design anthropology, and user research for 21st century challenges and/or digital technologies.

21 July submission of position statements (2 pages)
28 July notification of acceptances
5 Aug registration for PDC2014

Please submit 2-page position statements in the ACM SIGCHI paper format: to Rachel Charlotte Smith at

Rachel Charlotte Smith, Center for Participatory IT, Aarhus University, Denmark
Mette Gislev Kjaersgaard, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
Co-organisors of the Research Network for Design Anthropology<>

Further information and background:
Selected contributions will be made available here. We ask all participants to become familiar with the research contexts that will be discussed prior to the workshop.

About Fil Salustri
I'm a design methodologist and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada. Adjectives that describe me include: secular humanist, meritocrat, and long-winded. Some people call me a positivist too, as if that were a bad thing. Go figure. My real home page is

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