Otago Polytechnic

We are calling for chapters to be included in the double-blind, peer-reviewed edited book The Politics of Design: Privilege and Prejudice in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, Canada and South Africa, which will be published Otago Polytechnic Press in July 2021. 

The book proceeds from the understanding that to understand the causes and ongoing effects of global inequality, the relationship between design and politics deserves scrutiny in the postcolonial context. Despite being the product of deliberate political and social intentions, successful design appears ‘natural’, its ideological biases effectively hidden in plain sight. In former settler-colonial societies, this ‘invisibility’ begs the questions of the historical complicity of design in imposing and maintaining racialised hierarchies of privilege, access, identity, and notions of ‘belonging’.

In varying degrees, the inescapable and systemic inheritance of what was essentially racialised design continues to inform the present across the former British dominions, evading critique and hampering efforts at decolonisation. While there is a growing body of literature on the shared histories and legacies of settler colonialism in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia Canada and South Africa, there is no comparative study that focuses specifically on the role of design in creating and perpetuating racial hierarchies. This book aims to redress this by raising long-overdue questions about the history and implications of design in these contexts, and its problematic legacy and effects. How were buildings, objects, visual culture and material culture implicated, and how do they continue to be implicated in the normalising racial logics of former colonial-settler societies? How were designed forms, structures, spaces and artefacts that sustained the development of these societies entangled within – but also foundational to – the politics of obtaining and deploying power?  How do these structural inequalities continue to inform design in the present and how are people experiencing the historical remnants of design?

We seek chapters that will grapple with these questions. Ultimately, the aim of the volume is to challenge us to think comparatively across disparate but historically similar geographical and cultural contexts to enable a better understanding of the politics of design and its role in sustaining the prejudices and privileges of whiteness. In rendering visible complexities and contradictions that have long been hidden in plain sight we aim to lay the foundation for a new kind of restorative knowledge.

The attached document presents the full rationale for this book, the editors’ biographies and further submission details. 

Key dates and Submission Details:

  • A title and abstract of between 500 and 750 words for a finished chapter of 6,000 words accompanied by a short biography including your current institutional affiliation (about 200 words): due by 7th September 2020. Please submit to Jane Venis
  • Confirmations: We will let you know if your abstract has been accepted by 18 September 2020
  • First Draft of Chapter: due by 20 December 2020
  • Peer review process: completed by 15 February 2021
  • Envisioned publication: July 2021

Please pass this call on to your colleagues and networks. 

Federico Freschi,  Farieda Nazier and Jane Venis


Image credit: Federico Freschi, used with permission.

Published on 17 Aug 2020

Orderdate: 17 Aug 2020
Expiry: 21 Sep 2020