Anthropology and Design

Todd E. Nicewonger

in Anthropology

ISBN: 9780199766567
Published online August 2014 | | DOI:
Anthropology and Design

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  • Anthropology
  • Human Evolution
  • Medical Anthropology
  • Physical Anthropology
  • Social and Cultural Anthropology


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While anthropological studies of design expertise are not new, recent publications, conferences, and online forums have helped coin what is commonly referred to as design anthropology or anthropology and design. This body of work, however, is very diverse. In fact, those who self-identify as design anthropologists often evoke additional labels in describing their professional practices and research. In doing so, design anthropologists underscore the hybrid nature of anthropological engagements with design, which can extend from academia to the private sector. Additionally, design itself is an expansive category of diverse professional activities, commitments, and knowledge practices that can range from product design and architecture to brand management and humanitarianism and more. The diverse nature of this social terrain is thus made up of varying clusters of design activities. As such, not all design topics produce the same kinds of possibilities for anthropological engagements with social life, raising important questions about how research conducted, for instance, among marginalized communities overlaps with the kinds of queries and research techniques being employed by anthropologists working in the private sector. Complicating all of this further is the fact that there is a large interdisciplinary body of scholarship examining the sociopolitical dimensions of design. Consequently, this bibliography provides a starting point for exploring not only anthropological work on design but also key theoretical and interdisciplinary arguments that have raised critical questions about the socially oriented work of design and in turn have given shape to certain analytical questions and concerns. In this light, this bibliography examines how design as a subject and object of social analysis provides a rich and complex field of possibilities for exploring the human condition.

Article.  9994 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology ; Human Evolution ; Medical Anthropology ; Physical Anthropology ; Social and Cultural Anthropology

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