Myself and Anna Leander have published an article entitled Designing-With/In World Politics: Manifestos for an International Political Design. The article explores the contemporary relationship between social sciences that explore world politics and design theory, calling for a radical extension of the quotidian praxis of the former into modes of material-aesthetic making.
C I T A T I O N
Austin, Jonathan Luke and Leander, Anna. (2021). “Designing-With/In World Politics: Manifestos for an International Political Design,” Political Anthropological Research on the International Social Sciences, 2 (1).
A B S T R A C T
Why is the praxis of the International Social Sciences (ISS) so limited? Why are word counts and abstracts so much more integral to our quotidian workday than datasheets or color palettes? Why do we do little more than write texts and give lectures with – perhaps – the odd foray into photography or film-making? Why are we so reluctant to practically (and so not simply conceptually) engage with the full gamut of material, aesthetic, and technological making? This essay addresses these questions by advocating for the emergence of an International Political Design. It begins from the intuition that conceptual and empirical shifts across ISS towards embracing the material-entanglements of world politics, the centrality of affect and emotion to human praxis, and relational ontologies of emergence, prefiguration, and complexity, all logically demand a radical re-thinking of our praxis. Specifically, we argue that limiting our activities to the alphabetical (or visual) mediation of knowledge about world politics constrains our politicality and impoverishes our conceptual and empirical vitality. Considered in conjunction with the contemporary prevalence of global violence, injustice, and oppression, we suggest that integrating a far broader range of material-aesthetic practices into ISS is now an ethical imperative.Without taking up that responsibility, we abdicate the possibility of a more worldly and socially-embedded social science. Based on these core contentions, our discussion elaborates on how we might imagine an International Political Design: a conceptually rich, empirically-grounded, and ‘applied’ material-aesthetic approach to ISS. We do so in the form of a manifesto or – rather – collage of manifestos that each militates, in one way or another, towards the necessity of designing-with/in world politics.