Diana Albarran Gonzalez
Decolonising design with indigenous artisans in Mexico for ethical consumption.
The use of design to intervene crafts has been used as a development strategy across the world. In Latin America, this field is known as “Diseño Artesanal” (Artisanal Design). However, the colonisation of indigenous knowledge, the role of artisans as producers of the designer’s creations, and the lack of reference to the cultural context of the pieces remain a critical concern. In Mexico, many initiatives have used colonised approaches to work with indigenous artisanal communities, and do not benefit them beyond providing labour. Little research has been done on crafts not using dominant Western epistemologies resulting in decontextualised approaches. Considering current hegemonic design approaches to artisanal design in Latin America, it becomes necessary to generate new alternatives that could be considered decolonised. This research focuses on the interaction of an indigenous artisanal community in the region called “Los Altos de Chiapas”, south of Mexico, and “artisanal designers”. Following decolonising methodologies and participatory design to put indigenous knowledge in the centre, an established textile cooperative will collaborate as a case study. The results of the study will be examined using thematic analysis. This research seeks to address how decolonised design works for/by indigenous artisans and the possible creation of protocols that respect the autonomy of the indigenous artisanal community.
Dianna was born and raised in Chiapas, Mexico, a state with a large percentage of indigenous populations, where indigenous crafts were always a part of her life. She grew up surrounded by rich material culture and a diversity of language which naturally led to an interest in studying design, and later, practising and teaching it.
Dianna’s study revealing how the dominance of Euro-American discourses in design programs around the world had dominated, led to her questioning the role of design and designers in shaping culture and heritage. How might future generations of designers, both indigenous and non-indigenous, work in ways that support indigenous views about the world? How might we disrupt the current cultural hierarchy whereby European design is seen as the model for good design?
Her current research focuses on ethical and respectful approaches that go beyond economic benefits for the coloniser, and that decolonise design and its practitioners.