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Design Anthropology Interview with Dr. Dori Tunstall

The goal of design anthropology is to create conditions of compassion among human beings and conditions of harmony as it relates to the natural world and all of the things that are within it – Dr. Tunstall

On a recent episode of This Anthro Life, Adam Gamwell, and Matt Artz got to interview Dr. Dori Tunstall on the topic of design anthropology.

Over the course of the episode, we briefly covered issues of ethics within design anthropology as well as a touching upon how to find jobs in design.

We also make time to get into the topics of whether:

  • the IRS is really as bad as popular culture makes them out to be.
  • How can we avoid cultural misappropriation?
  • And finally, how do value systems get expressed in design?

Who is Dr. Elizabeth “Dori” Tunstall

Dr. Elizabeth “Dori” Tunstall is a design anthropologist and the Dean of Faculty of Design at the Ontario College of Art and Design University. She is the first black female dean of design. Dr. Tunstall received her PhD in Anthropology from Stanford University. In addition to her role at OCAD University, Tunstall wrote a bi-weekly column in The Conversation, worked as Managing Director for Design for Democracy, worked with E-Labs, which later became Sapients, and held numerous academic positions as a design anthropologist.

Helpful Vocab:

Design Anthropology (for the Yin-minded): “How the processes and artifacts of design help to define what it means to be human.”

Design Anthropology (for the Yang-minded): “How design translates values into tangible experiences.”

Transculturation– Is a theory developed by Fernando Ortiz that focuses on the “merging and converging” of cultures. The following three processes are part of transculturation:

  • Acculturation – When you take parts of other cultures.
  • Deculturation- When culture is lost usually by conditions that are usually due to cohersion
  • Neoculturation– When hybrid cultures come out unrelated to any of the parent cultures

“You have to pay attention to what is gained, lost, created a new, and the power relations that exist within that” -Dr. Tunstall

The 5 Iterations of Design Anthropology:

  1. Yin (internal/self-reflective) and Yang (activism/change/external) of Design Anthropology – where the Yin represents anthropology, the Yang represents design, and design anthropology represents the “balance and harmony” between them.
  2. Q.A.M.E. – (Questions Assumptions, Methods and Evidence)
  3. Values/Design/Experience as a methodology of design anthropology
  4. 7 principles of Design Anthropology
  5. Respectful Design: Dori Tunstall: Respectful Design – The Canadian Context

Also published on Medium.

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