Designing-With/In World Politics: Manifestos for an International Political Design

Jonathan Luke Austin, Anna Leander

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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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolitical Anthropological Research on International Social Sciences (PARISS)
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)83-154
Number of pages72
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

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