Making, mending and growing in feminist speculative fabulations: Design’s unfaithful daughters

Laura Forlano, Åsa Ståhl, Kristina Lindström, Li Jonsson, Ramia Maze

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientific

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Drawing on a recent book by Stengers and Despret (2014), this conversation seeks to consider design research practices around critical and speculative design (Dunne & Raby, 2009, 2013) and speculative fabulation (Haraway, 2011) from a feminist perspective and, in particular, core feminist arguments around corporeality, materiality, embodiment, affectivity and experientiality. Haraway discusses the ways in which “worlding” happens in part due to material artifacts writing about as well as the ways in which the factual, fictional and fabulated come together in research. She draws on Marilyn Strathern’s ethnographic work on gender, stating that “It matters what stories make worlds, what worlds make stories.” Bardzell (2010) describes a feminist HCI methodology as including: a commitment to both scientific and moral objectives, a connection to feminist theory, a deliberate use of methods based on values and goals, an empathic relationship with research participants, transparency around the role of the researcher along with their beliefs, co-construction of research, mixed methodologies and reflexivity. This conversation will draw inspiration from critical feminist theory such as Haraway’s cat’s cradle (1994) as well as recent examples from critically engaged design practice on topics such as composting (Lindström and Ståhl forthcoming), the spider-ant (Jönsson 2014), the future of work (Forlano & Halpern, 2016), and the history of women cyclists (Jungnickel, 2014). In particular, we will imagine new ways of practicing design by examining relationships between speculative futures and reimaginings of the past; the role of a feminist perspective in problem-making and questioning; speculative design and fabulation as participatory practice; the role of practices around mending, growing, maintaining and repairing; and, the posthuman design and the anthropocene. These examples and themes will be enacted through collaborative prototyping and the crafting of new feminist speculative fabulations that will materially embody the discussion and allow for an active, experiential session. In this way, and in keeping with feminist figurations, this conversation will engage in a double move to leave something behind while also suggesting something new (Åsberg et al 2012).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBook of DRS 2016 Conversations
Place of PublicationBrighton, UK
PublisherDesign Research Society
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeB3 Non-refereed article in conference proceedings
EventDesign Research Society International Conference - Brighton, United Kingdom
Duration: 27 Jun 201630 Jun 2016
Conference number: 50

Publication series

PublisherDesign Research Society
ISSN (Electronic)2398-3132


ConferenceDesign Research Society International Conference
Abbreviated titleDRS
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • speculative
  • futures
  • feminism
  • decolonial
  • politics


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