Call for Papers For a collective-oriented, non-corporate account of design practices.
This call for papers addresses scholars and practitioners dealing with the invention and evolution of the social, that through essays on theoretical argumentation, case studies, and field work attempt to answer the following questions:
1. What embodiments of politics—can be mobilized or enacted with/by/through innovation processes?
2. In what way contemporary notions of innovation become spaces where corporate design and social action can be responded to?
3. What is the process by which design and invention emerge as collective realities, exceeding the main stream narratives of individual human entrepreneurism?
4. By means of what modes of reconstruction or affection are societies and environments transformed by/through/in design?
5. What is the material dimension of the processes by which techno-societies engage with change?
6. What notions of concern, engagement, activism, care, or improvement?
7. What is the way innovation processes gain accountability?
With 1.2 billion Google results, innovation is the omnipresent buzzword that encapsulates the processes by which cultures, materialities, and economies interact and produce evolutions, constraints, and alternatives that rearticulate societies. The human capacity to redesign and effectively intervene in environments, technologies, kinships, bodies, and networks is often highly delegated to a single term: innovation. However, with such momentous prerogatives in the making of the societal, the use of the term innovation remains kidnapped by simplified, corporate PR rhetoric. Schumpeter’s notion of the entrepreneur as the solo agent that brings invention to markets through linear innovation1 still feeds the naive generalized notion of individual designers and entrepreneurs as the sole agents of innovation. This is a process that, when carefully observed as it develops in specific cases, mobilizes societies at large. It is a process in which non-human entities greatly participate, and one in which its players are affected by unintended, accidental, and inscrutable interactions.
In 2002 Madeleine Akrich, Michel Callon, and Bruno Latour of the Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation sent out a call to complicate received notions on the role designers and entrepreneurs play by approaching innovation as a collective enactment: “The bringing together of market and technology, through which both inventions and the outlets which transform them into innovations are patiently constructed, is more and more a result of a collective activity and no longer the monopoly of an inspired and dedicated individual. The individual qualities of insight, intuition, sense of anticipation, quick reactions, skillfulness, must all be reinvented and reformulated in the language of the organization. They are no longer the property of an individual, but become collective virtues, during the emergence of which the art of governing and managing play a key role.”2
This fifth issue of Ardeth aims to collect contributions that explore the roles non-humans and ecosystems play in processes of innovation; the participation of the contingent, the environmental, the accidental, and the non-intentional in the emergence of design and invention as socially reconstructing practices; and contributions that help enunciate the way a collective notion of innovation can better explain the way innovative processes are and can be emancipated from corporative hegemonies—how they can be mobilized as embodiments of progressive and inclusive politics, mutual care, engagement, and activism.