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100% bag tanned: action research generating new insights on design processes

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Abstract
This article discusses two examples of experimentation with design and anthropology using action research as a method, combining observations and engagement through making. The author describes the use of action research vis-à-vis handmade footwear in two communities in India, to better understand the design process in its context. The author worked with the Kolhapuri artisans in Athani, Karnataka, and with the Jutti artisans in Ranthambore, Rajasthan, to gather information on the skills of creating footwear and on what it means to make footwear in those communities. In the first part of this article, a description of what is understood by ‘design and making’ is offered. Both cases show that form is not imposed on the material, but that they mutually influence each other. In the second part, the process of action research in the two communities is described. The third part reflects on the interactivity of the research and its contribution for design anthropology. Can we talk about reciprocal ethnography? In the present approach, the apprenticeship the researcher did with the artisans assumes a dialogue and interactivity which results in shared ethnographic power. By focusing on the processes of design formation in a specific environment, the risk of pseudo-ethnography (Foster 1995) – whereby only partial engagement with the community is achieved – is avoided.
Keywords
action research, anthropology, comparative design practice, footwear, culture, skills, knowledge

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MLA
Willems, Catherine. “100% Bag Tanned: Action Research Generating New Insights on Design Processes.” CRITICAL ARTS-SOUTH-NORTH CULTURAL AND MEDIA STUDIES, edited by Kris Rutten et al., vol. 27, no. 5, 2013, pp. 474–89.
APA
Willems, C. (2013). 100% bag tanned: action research generating new insights on design processes. CRITICAL ARTS-SOUTH-NORTH CULTURAL AND MEDIA STUDIES, 27(5), 474–489.
Chicago author-date
Willems, Catherine. 2013. “100% Bag Tanned: Action Research Generating New Insights on Design Processes.” Edited by Kris Rutten, Ann van Dienderen, and Ronald Soetaert. CRITICAL ARTS-SOUTH-NORTH CULTURAL AND MEDIA STUDIES 27 (5): 474–89.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Willems, Catherine. 2013. “100% Bag Tanned: Action Research Generating New Insights on Design Processes.” Ed by. Kris Rutten, Ann van Dienderen, and Ronald Soetaert. CRITICAL ARTS-SOUTH-NORTH CULTURAL AND MEDIA STUDIES 27 (5): 474–489.
Vancouver
1.
Willems C. 100% bag tanned: action research generating new insights on design processes. Rutten K, van Dienderen A, Soetaert R, editors. CRITICAL ARTS-SOUTH-NORTH CULTURAL AND MEDIA STUDIES. 2013;27(5):474–89.
IEEE
[1]
C. Willems, “100% bag tanned: action research generating new insights on design processes,” CRITICAL ARTS-SOUTH-NORTH CULTURAL AND MEDIA STUDIES, vol. 27, no. 5, pp. 474–489, 2013.
@article{6849807,
  abstract     = {This article discusses two examples of experimentation with design and anthropology using action research as a method, combining observations and engagement through making. The author describes the use of action research vis-à-vis handmade footwear in two communities in India, to better understand the design process in its context. The author worked with the Kolhapuri artisans in Athani, Karnataka, and with the Jutti artisans in Ranthambore, Rajasthan, to gather information on the skills of creating footwear and on what it means to make footwear in those communities. In the first part of this article, a description of what is understood by ‘design and making’ is offered. Both cases show that form is not imposed on the material, but that they mutually influence each other. In the second part, the process of action research in the two communities is described. The third part reflects on the interactivity of the research and its contribution for design anthropology. Can we talk about reciprocal ethnography? In the present approach, the apprenticeship the researcher did with the artisans assumes a dialogue and interactivity which results in shared ethnographic power. By focusing on the processes of design formation in a specific environment, the risk of pseudo-ethnography (Foster 1995) – whereby only partial engagement with the community is achieved – is avoided.},
  author       = {Willems, Catherine},
  editor       = {Rutten, Kris and van Dienderen, Ann and Soetaert, Ronald},
  issn         = {0256-0046},
  journal      = {CRITICAL ARTS-SOUTH-NORTH CULTURAL AND MEDIA STUDIES},
  keywords     = {action research,anthropology,comparative design practice,footwear,culture,skills,knowledge},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {5},
  pages        = {474--489},
  title        = {100% bag tanned: action research generating new insights on design processes},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02560046.2013.855515},
  volume       = {27},
  year         = {2013},
}

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