Special Issue: Design History: Locating Design Exchanges in Latin America and the Caribbean (Jan 2017)

Website: J Design History Deadline for submissions: 9 January 2017 Guest editors: Patricia Lara-Betancourt (Modern Interiors Research C...

Website: J Design History
Deadline for submissions: 9 January 2017

Guest editors: Patricia Lara-Betancourt (Modern Interiors Research Centre, Kingston University, London, UK) & Livia Rezende (History of Design Programme, Victoria & Albert Museum/Royal College of Art, London, UK)

The Journal of Design History is calling for submissions to a special volume of research articles on Locating Design Exchanges in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) to be published in 2018. Its aim is to unearth exchanges, connections and comparisons in design and material culture among Latin American and Caribbean nations and between the region and other global geographies since 1800.

With 626 million inhabitants who speak mostly Spanish and Portuguese, but also English, German, Dutch, Italian and many native languages, the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region is a culturally rich area whose economic prosperity, social movements, biodiversity and natural resources have drawn international interest recently. Compared to other parts of the world, it has performed well after the 2008 financial crisis and is no longer associated with the problems it faced in the 1980s, when hyperinflation, recession and debt gripped the region. Latin America today may be playing a more prominent role as a member of international policy and economic organizations, yet historically the region has always actively participated in the making of a global network of economic, cultural and material exchange, from the colonial (sixteenth to eighteenth centuries) exploitation of its natural and human resources to the twentieth-century development of a ‘modern design’ ideology.

From a scholarly perspective and particularly since the 1960s there has been growing interest in the region. In the UK, the US but also in several European countries, there is no lack of undergraduate and postgraduate studies on Latin America, and the growth of design research in the region is visible. Furthermore, key museums and cultural institutions around the world, in their wish to reflect a more global approach to their collections and activities and respond to growing public interest, have accordingly increased their funding and resources on Latin America.

Design historical studies in and about the LAC region, although emerging, tend to focus on individual designers or design institutions. In Latin America, the discipline of design history has been traditionally conflated with the history of the profession and professionally designed products under a definition that mostly refers to industrial and communication design excluding, for instance, craft and interiors, among other practices. This historiography tends to replicate interpretative models commonly found in economics and politics that frame the region as dependent on so-called centres of production, and promote a perception of Latin American design and material culture as derivative, a second-rate version of a European or United States’ ideal. Moreover, research has tended to analyse design historical phenomena from nation-specific perspectives rather than regional or global ones, hindering the study of material, visual and design culture from a Latin American agency viewpoint, and obscuring its participation in wider networks of material exchange.

This Special Issue of the Journal of Design History therefore aims to bring together emerging and established scholars whose work identify points of comparison and connection in the design and material cultural histories among LAC nations, and integrate design histories of Latin America into broader understandings, discourses and narratives of design history in general.

We welcome contributions from scholars engaging with original, design historical-led archival research on topics related to LAC’s design, visual, spatial and material cultures that explore Latin American agency. We welcome methodologies that understand design and material culture within frameworks of appropriation, adaptation, hybridization and syncretism (of influences, notions, ideas, beliefs, etc.) that might constitute a Latin-American specific way of engaging with global processes of material exchange. We ask that articles engage with in-depth critical analysis, rather than celebratory and/or descriptive accounts. We search approaches that foreground transnational debates and comparisons, and/or interregional or global exchanges, rather than focus on particular Latin American nations.

Among other relevant issues, we invite papers that discuss:

  • The participation of material or visual culture, artefacts, craft production, making processes, consumption practices, technologies, institutions, among others, in the formation of modernities and national identities in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Histories of technological development, adaptation, innovation and invention framed in the perspective of Latin American agency rather than as histories of importation and copy 
  • Design practice, institutionalization and education as tools for regional development
  • The role of manufacturers, commerce, retailers and museums in mediating design and material culture.
  • The role of magazines, journals, books and exhibitions in disseminating design and material culture.

Article on an Archive or Collection. We also invite contributions that introduce and explore aspects of a design archive or collection as a resource for design historical research in Latin America and the Caribbean, including those held by museums, libraries, businesses, and educational institutions. We encourage authors to take a critical perspective, i.e. not only describing the strengths but also analysing weaknesses of an archive or collection, or uncovering institutional biases and historical gaps and suggesting ways of resolving these issues. We will welcome contributions from archivists, curators, designers, historians, museum professionals, and advanced graduate students. Submissions should provide information on how to access the archive or collection. Please check further details on how to submit this type of article.

Authors can contact the guest editors Patricia Lara-Betancourt and Livia Rezende via the emails below to discuss proposals before submission. Please address your email correspondence to both of us. Full papers are expected by 9 Jan 2017.  When preparing your submission, please follow the Journal guidelines.

Key Dates

  • 9 Jan 2017: Submission of articles to guest editors via the email addresses given below
  • Jan to 28 April 2017: Selection of articles and first round of peer review
  • 29 May 2017: Deadline for article submission via Oxford University Press (OUP) Manuscript Central (for previously selected manuscripts only)
  • Aug 2017: Reviewers’ response
  • June 2018:  Deadline for second and final re-submission of revised articles via OUP Manuscript Central
  • 28 Sep 2018: Special Issue complete manuscript submission

Dr Patricia Lara-Betancourt is a design historian and research fellow at The Modern Interiors Research Centre, Kingston University (London, UK).
Dr. Livia Rezende is tutor and supervisor at the History of Design postgraduate programme jointly run by the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Royal College of Art.

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