Race in Design History: An Anthology
edited by Kristina Wilson, Professor of Art History, Clark University and Michelle Joan Wilkinson, Curator of Architecture and Design, National Museum of African American History and Culture
How has race shaped the objects of our designed world? We invite contributors to submit to an edited volume that will focus on the ways design and design histories have engaged ideas about race, whether implicitly or explicitly. Race is a contested category with shifting meanings over time, and perceptions about race influence design history in multiple ways: how objects are designed; how designers imagine their ideal consumer; how designs are put into production and how those designs are marketed. Ultimately, race has an impact on the scope and structure of the residual design archive that historians are left sifting through. This edited volume welcomes contributions in the form of close readings of design objects as well as critical interrogations about design through the lenses of practice, pedagogy, curation, and historiography.
Recent work in design history has emphasized the importance of decolonizing the predominantly Western and Northern biases of the modernist canon. This anthology aims to contribute to that work, and embraces the goals of critical race studies of design, with an investigation of the role of race in all aspects of design history. It welcomes scholarship that looks at under-valued objects of design, scholarship that expands our understanding of what it means to have a career as a designer, and scholarship that illuminates design history in new contexts. We seek narratives of design history that interrogate our assumptions about what is knowable in the past.
We invite contributions on decorative objects, interiors, fashion, architecture, and graphic design, among others, 1800 to the present, global in scope. Proposals should be made for one or more of the following types of essays:
1) Scholarly essays of 3,500-4,000 words: these might be case studies that investigate a movement, a designer, a specific exhibition, or production materials and processes; should engage historical context and demonstrate methodological innovation.
2) Short essays of 1250-1500 words: close readings of objects, keywords, or terms that give the reader an immersive encounter; the style of writing in these essays could be more experimental, and these short pieces will complement the larger contextual discussions offered in the longer essays;
3) Questions of practice essays of 3,000 words: essays that address aspects of museum practice, teaching and pedagogical practice, designers’ practice.
Please send a 300-word proposal and a CV to:
KrWilson@clarku.edu and WilkinsonM@si.edu with “Race in Design History” in the subject line by the deadline of March 15, 2023. Contributors will be notified by mid-April, and drafts will be due September 15, 2023.