DESIS Philosophy Talk #7.2 The Politics of Nature. Designing for an Ontological Turn

UPDATE: video now online (see below)

Organised by Virginia Tassinari, Ezio Manzini, Arturo Escobar, Liesbeth Huybrechts and Annalinda De Rosa
Zoom conversation @PDC2020 Manizales 15:30-17:00 COT – Brussels 22:30-00:00 CEST

Today’s environmental emergency requires specific efforts in terms of thinking/acting in designing. The consequences of anthropocentric ways of producing, consuming and living are becoming painfully clear. Design played (and often still plays) a role in this, and therefore has contributed in many ways to this anthropocentric mindset, considering human interests as separate from those of the planet. Design is hence obliged to recognize its risks and consequences. In this regard, designers are currently, and increasingly, becoming aware that an ontological shift is needed. What does it mean to take this “ontological turn” seriously? Which thinking in contemporary philosophy and anthropology can help designers – and particularly those dealing with subfields of design such as Participatory Design and Design for Social Innovation – to develop non-anthropocentric reflective practices that might account for the radical interdependence between people and the planet? Which kinds of transformative reflective practices might these modes of thinking possibly nurture? In this series of DESIS Philosophy Talks, we explore this subject starting from Latour’s idea of ‘coming down to Earth’, meaning to take into account the radical interdependence of all living creatures, as well as De la Bellacasa’s idea of “care” as relational modality within this radical interdependence. In this session, hosted by PDC2020, we will open the discussion about other Pluriversal metaphors – for instance coming from indigenous cultures – which can guide design to shift from anthropocentrism “down to Earth”. We will also explore what these metaphors could mean for contemporary design practices in concrete terms. Anthropologists Arturo Escobar, Mario Blazer and Marisol de la Cadena will engage with the Participatory Design community in this timely intellectual confrontation.