Subject: Reminder: [SDRJ CfP] Special Issue on "Autonomía | Design strategies for enabling design process"

*[apologies for cross-posting]

Dear colleagues,

we point to your attention the following Call for Papers, which may be of
interest to some of you.

Special Issue of the *Strategic Design Research Journal* (Aug/Sep 2018):
"Autonomía | Design strategies for enabling design process".

Find below the full text of the call, the time schedule and the
information/links for the submission.

Best regards,

Chiara Del Gaudio, Andrea Botero and Alfredo Gutiérrez Borrero


CfP: Autonomía | Design strategies for enabling design process

Special Issue of SDRJ – Strategic Design Research Journal

Guest editors: Chiara Del Gaudio, Andrea Botero and Alfredo Gutierrez

Information for Contributors

The past decades have seen multiple calls for a reorientation of the design
disciplines away from the established functionalist, rationalist, and
industrial traditions dominant for most part of their history. New
epistemological bases and practices that enable design processes to embrace
complexity and to more accurately reflect broad changes in societies are
being explored from both critical and mainstream positions. Amongst them we
can mention: the understanding of the potentiality of design to lead
societal transitions and envision new paradigms by focusing on solutions
that are appropriate to local social and environmental conditions while
addressing global issues (see e.g.: IRWIN, KOSSOFF and TONKINWISE, 2015);
the calls for recognizing and acknowledging people’s empirical knowledge as
resources for co-creation (see e.g.: SANDERS, STAPPERS, 2008);
propositions for understanding that people are constantly designing and
redesigning their lives and that design experts have to use their expertise
to support individual and collective projects (see e.g., MANZINI, 2015);
attempts at empowering non-designers in creative processes to support
participation and collaboration (SCHULER, NAMIOKA, 1993) and the
articulation of new forms of design citizenship and activism (see e.g.:
PAPANEK 1973, JULIER 2011); the interest in a design practice that acts
towards allowing and promoting the expression of dissent to reveal power
relations and conflicts, and challenge common practices and discourses
(DISALVO, 2010); and the experimentation of new forms of observing, moving,
describing and imagining the local environment in a relationship of
constant engagement with local inhabitants, based on imagining a joint
field between design and anthropological practices (see e.g.: ANASTASSAKIS,
2013). Even if not a comprehensive list of current trends, those listed are
equally important, components of the growing call for a significant
reorientation of design.

Particular recent developments foster a deeper reflection on whether
design, and other modernist practices, can actually contribute to the
development of those communal human-non human assemblages that are
necessary for a transition towards more sustainable and plural ways of
being. As the anthropologist Arturo Escobar (2016) stresses, this seems to
be quite a challenge for design, even for the above mentioned trends. In
addressing this question, Escobar suggests that the calls for autonomy
emerging from mobilized grassroots communities in Latin America -amongst
others - can act as interesting signposts for design, and that new forms of
design practice that acknowledge and work with-in an autonomy framework can
be key contributors to this reimagining of our collective futures (ESCOBAR,
2012; ESCOBAR, 2016, 2017)**. In his analysis, there are promising examples
of collectives fostering and developing concrete ways of “changing
tradition traditionally”, and processes that foster the idea of “changing
the ways we change” (ESCOBAR, 2016, p.140), which Escobar summarizes under
the idea of autonomía.

Drawing from contemporary understandings of autopoiesis and autonomy,
autonomía can be understood as a “cultural, ecological and political
process that involves autonomous forms of existence and decision making”
(ESCOBAR, 2016, p.141). From the perspective of design and designing, this
means supporting conditions for collectives to be able to effect change and
to change according to their traditions allowing “every community [to]
practice the design of itself” (ESCOBAR, 2016, p. 16). A framework of
autonomía seems to challenge some (current) widespread design practices for
community empowerment, where unspecified interest in doing good through
collaboration or by fostering a re-socialization of design are not
sufficient. Instead, working towards enabling and fostering autonomía,
brings radical changes in design perspective: it means to incorporate into
design practices the relational dimension of life, which also imply more
communal and relational modes of knowing, being and doing. This might also
involve working with other types of designs, including “designs from the
South” (see e.g.: GUTIERREZ BORRERO, 2015 and TUNSTALL 2016) and a
decolonizing of design (TLOSTANOVA, 2017) .

Building on the idea of autonomía, we ask ourselves: What is the relation
between autonomía , design practices and the political activation of
relational and communal logics and ways of being, in current research and
design practice? Which existing design practices and approaches could be
seen as contributing to communal forms of autonomía ? If so, how do they do
it, what tactics and strategies they mobilize? (see e.g.: MARTTILA, BOTERO
2016 and MITRAŠINOVIĆ 2016). Given that the boundaries between “enabling
designing”, “designing with” and “designing for” are difficult to
set and
are constantly changing, are designers and the collectives they work with
aware of autonomía? Should they be? Is autonomía a good guiding principle
for design practice?

Design’s role in facilitating, leading, impeding, imposing, and persuading
through design ideas has implications for the ways we live and the worlds
we create. This is particularly important if one considers that designs
most established practices stem from the dualist ontology associated with
patriarchal capitalist modernity. The framework of autonomía envisions a
design praxis that actively deals with the complexity of the design process
itself and its implications in world-making processes. It does so
particularly by adopting a relational (e.g., nondualist or post-dualist)
ontological design perspective. In this special issue, we seek original
contributions – conceptual and theoretical analysis as well as case studies
or empirical findings – that critically engage with one (or more) of the
questions raised here (and above):


Can design‘s modernist tradition be reoriented towards relational modes
of knowing, being and doing? How? And what are the limits of this change?


Can design be creatively re-appropriated by subaltern communities (has
it been already?) in support of their own struggles and forms of
livelihood, and of strengthening their autonomy to perform their life
projects, on their own terms?

How can we nourish design’s potentiality towards transition far from the
hegemony of modernity’s one-world ontology to a pluriverse of

Are the concepts of autonomía and the communal, largely developed from
Latin American cultural experiences and political struggles, applicable to
situations in, say, the Global North, including urban areas?

What kinds of adaptations would these notions, and the concept of
“autonomous design,” have to undergo in order to be fruitfully applied
these contexts? In fact, is autonomía a good concept for thinking
critically about design practice at present?

Are there already identifiable examples of practicing “autonomous
design”? What kind of meanings they produce within the communities that
practice and are made by them? Moreover, which are the main features of
these practices? And, what insights they offer for the re-orientation of
mainstream design?

Finally, we invite contributors to reflect on present and previous
design projects: how do they deal (or not) with the concept of autonomía?

NOTE: While the concept of autonomía (in the sense used in the CFP) has
been mostly discussed in Spanish (esp in: ESCOBAR 2016) there are a couple
of recent publications in English that deal with it. In particular (ESCOBAR
2017) can serve as good reference for English speakers and for Spanish
speakers (or others) writing in English (which might tend to relate the
concept with an individualistic understanding of it, that is perhaps more
common in the English uses of the word autonomy). Copies of that article
can be made available upon request sent to the editors of this special
issue. We are aware that in an ideal world this would need to be a
multilingual issue, however due to resource constraints, only submissions
in English will be accepted. However as guest editors, we hope this is only
but the beginning of a longer dialogue in many contexts and languages.


ANASTASSAKIS, Zoy.. Ethnographic Observatory of Design and Social
Innovation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In: Participatory Innovation
Conference PIN-C 2013, 3, Lahti, 2013. Proceedings of the Participatory
Innovation Conference PIN-C 2013. Lahti: LUT Scientific and Expertise
Publications. 1: 188-192.

DISALVO, Carl. Design, democracy and agonistic pluralism. In: Design
research society conference, 44, Montréal, 2010. DRS 2010 proceedings.
Montréal. 1: 366-371.

TUNSTALL, Elizabeth. Respectful Design AIGA (full). Toronto: AIGA Design
Conference. 2016. Retrieved from
v=sESVWI5aAHA& . Accessed on: June, 1st , 2017.

ESCOBAR, Arturo. 2012. Notes on the Ontology of Design. In: Marisol LA
CADENA and Mario BLASER (ed.) Sawyer Seminar, Indigenous Cosmopolitics:
Dialogues about the Reconstitution of Worlds. v. 30.

ESCOBAR, A. 2016. Autonomia y Diseño: La realización de lo communal
and Design: The Realization of the Communal). 1st ed., Popayan, Universidad
del Cauca, 281 p

ESCOBAR, Arturo. 2017. Response: Design for/by [and from] the ‘global
South.’ Design Philosophy Papers, 15 (1): 39–49.

GUTIÉRREZ BORRERO, Alfredo. 2015. Resurgimientos: sures como diseños y
diseños otros [Resurgences: south, as designs and other designs]. Nómadas,
43: 113–129.

IRWIN, Terry; TONKINWISE, Cameron; KOSSOFF, Gideon. 2015. Transition Design
Provocation. Design Philosophy Papers, 13 (1): 3–11.

JULIER, Guy. 2011. Political Economies of Design Activism and the Public
Sector.In: Nordic Design Research Conference, 4, Helsinki, 2011. Nordes,
1-8. Retrieved from
Julier_Design_Activism.pdf Accessed on: June, 1st , 2017.

MANZINI, Ezio. 2015. Design, When Everybody Designs. Cambridge: MIT Press.

MARTTILA, Sanna; BOTERO, Andrea. 2016. Bees, drones and other Things in
public space: Strategizing in the city. Strategic Design Research Journal, 9
(2): 75-88.

MITRAŠINOVIĆ, Miodrag. 2015. Concurrent Urbanities. Designing
infrastructures of inclusion. New York: Routledge. 224 p.

PAPANEK, Victor. 1973. Design For The Real World: Human ecology and social
change. 2 ed. Academy Chicago Publishers, 1973.

SCHULER, Douglas; NAMIOKA, Aki. (Eds.). 1993. Participatory Design:
Principles and Practices. Hilsdale, NJ: CRC / Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

TLOSTANOVA, Madina. 2017. On decolonizing design. Design Philosophy Papers.
15 (1): 51-61.


ESCOBAR, Arturo. 2015. Transiciones: a space for research and design for
transitions to the pluriverse. Design Philosophy Papers, 13 (1): 13–23.

MORIN, Edgar. 2015. Introdução ao pensamento complexo. 5 ed. Porto Alegre:
Editora Sulina. 120 p.

SALAZAR, Juan Francisco. 2017. Buen Vivir: South America’s rethinking of
the future we want. Available at:
buen-vivir-south-americas-rethinking-of-the-future-we-want-44507 . Accessed
on: June, 1st, 2017

SANDERS, Elizabeth. Postdesign and Participatory Culture. In: Useful and
Critical: The Position of Research in Design, 1, Tuusula, Finland,
1999. Proceeding
of Useful and Critical: The Position of Research in Design. University of
Art and Design, Helsinki: 87-92.


July 2017: Launch of the call

Full Paper Due: November 30th, 2017

Notification of Review Results: February 28th, 2018

Deadline for submission of the final version: April 15th, 2018

Final acceptance: June 15th, 2018

Publication of the Special Issue: August 31st, 2018



Manuscripts must be prepared using the guidelines found at the Submission
page (


The manuscript must be written in English.


Previously published articles will not be accepted. Submitted articles
not be under consideration for publication anywhere else. The
publication of the article is subjected to the previous approval of the
journal's Editorial Board, as well as to peer review made by, at least,
reviewers using the double blind review process.


Manuscripts must be sent through the journal’s online submission system.
You have to register in the platform in order to submit your article: <>

If you have questions regarding the submission process, the journal at:

*Chiara Del Gaudio *|

*Programa de Graduação em Design
*Programa de Pós Graduação em Design

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