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#Futuress Keynote

On Toxic Relationships: Design and Anthropology

Oct. 25, 2022 | 6 pm CEST| with Imad Gebrayel


The talk discusses ambivalent encounters between design and anthropology as designers continually seek to expand their research practices.

Design and anthropology are experiencing a moment of mutual fascination: intense, lustful, and at times toxic. A number of design researchers are assertively locating their work within anthropology, a field bearing multiple entanglements with colonial histories. Meanwhile, recent debates in anthropology argue for the diversification of ethnographic methods under the umbrella term: multimodality.
Multimodal anthropology conceals a tight engagement with neoliberal designerly ways of making, often without adopting histories of criticism stemming from design disciplines or including designers as researchers and educators: design is often welcome, but designers are not.

Threading his own experiences in a liminal space between the two fields, Imad asks: What are the potentials and limitations of multimodal research? How can design researchers develop their engaged practices in relation to anthropology? And consequently, how can they negotiate hybrid, equitable research futures at times of multiple crises?

Imad Gebrayel (he/him) is a Lebanese designer, educator, and researcher based in Berlin. He has produced visual and theoretical works around identity representation and self-Orientalism in Arab* design, counter-mapping, and archiving. He has lectured at several academic institutions including Humboldt University of Berlin, Berlin University of the Arts, Hochschule für Künste Bremen, The University of Art and Design Linz, and Design Akademie Berlin. Imad has co-founded cultural and urban projects centering Arab-migrant experiences and is currently undertaking ethnographic research on the negotiations of Arab-Arab identifications in Sonnenallee, Berlin, as part of his doctoral project at the Humboldt University of Berlin.

This event is possible thanks to a generous grant from ProHelvetia.

The talk discusses ambivalent encounters between design and anthropology as designers continually seek to expand their research practices.

Design and anthropology are experiencing a moment of mutual fascination: intense, lustful, and at times toxic. A number of design researchers are assertively locating their work within anthropology, a field bearing multiple entanglements with colonial histories. Meanwhile, recent debates in anthropology argue for the diversification of ethnographic methods under the umbrella term: multimodality.
Multimodal anthropology conceals a tight engagement with neoliberal designerly ways of making, often without adopting histories of criticism stemming from design disciplines or including designers as researchers and educators: design is often welcome, but designers are not.

Threading his own experiences in a liminal space between the two fields, Imad asks: What are the potentials and limitations of multimodal research? How can design researchers develop their engaged practices in relation to anthropology? And consequently, how can they negotiate hybrid, equitable research futures at times of multiple crises?

Imad Gebrayel (he/him) is a Lebanese designer, educator, and researcher based in Berlin. He has produced visual and theoretical works around identity representation and self-Orientalism in Arab* design, counter-mapping, and archiving. He has lectured at several academic institutions including Humboldt University of Berlin, Berlin University of the Arts, Hochschule für Künste Bremen, The University of Art and Design Linz, and Design Akademie Berlin. Imad has co-founded cultural and urban projects centering Arab-migrant experiences and is currently undertaking ethnographic research on the negotiations of Arab-Arab identifications in Sonnenallee, Berlin, as part of his doctoral project at the Humboldt University of Berlin.

This event is possible thanks to a generous grant from ProHelvetia.