- Visiting address:
- Thunbergsvägen 3 H
- Postal address:
- Box 631
751 26 Uppsala
Mahmoud Keshavarz is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Engaging Vulnerability Research Program at the Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology. His research and publications sit at the intersection of design studies and politics of movement and migration. He is co-editor of Design and Culture, co-founder of Decolonizing Design collective and Critical Border Studies.
Keywords: material culture mobilities design designforskning international migration critical design border studies (konst-)hantverk materiality socio-materiality postcolonial theory decolonial studies • citizenship studies design studies borders decoloniality design anthropology design philosophy
Also available at
My research widely focuses on the politics of design and the design of politics. I am interested in how different material practices shape our perception and possibilities of (un)doing politics. More specifically I am interested on questions related to im/mobility, movement and motion and their materialities and design features.
My research projects at the moment are based on two different topics that overlap on the question of the design politics of borders.
First, I look at the practices of forgery and migrant smuggling as particular modes of technical critique of borders. I draw on ethnographic as well as design methods to examine and discuss different vulnerabilities appropriated for and exposed by such forms of critique. I examine what a technical mode of critique entails, how it is practiced and how it is different from other modes of critique. Furthermore, I frame these practices in relation to "the colonial matrix of power" which has shaped the current asymmetrical access to the right to freedom of movement.
Second, I am interested on the politics of humanitarian design in relation to border politics and conditions of refugees. I am interested in how different forms of compassion are materialized, mobilized and normalized through concrete design "interventions" and "solutions" and how they produce not only new biopolitical norms but also new political forms. I look at how designers imagine and materialise abstract notions such as dignity, compassion, empathy, humanity, etc. through their design works. By this, I look at the politics from which these design practices are conceived and performed and the politics these seemingly problem-solving products and services produce, ignore or eventually oppress.
- Citizenship in A Lexicon for Designing in Dark Times, Virginia Tassinari and Eduardo Staszowskii (eds.), London: Bloomsbury, 2019.
- Vulnerable Makings: Unseaworthy Boats Transgressing Borders in Design and Political Dissent: Spaces, Objects, Materiality. J. Traganou (ed.). London: Routledge.
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