The Design Feminisms Research Group is an inclusive feminist research group at Northumbria University’s School of Design. We explore meanings and implications of ‘feminisms’ in design, and how this political orientation and theoretical framework impacts our research, teaching, and practice.
Our group is inclusive of people of all genders who do research around, are exploring, or are interested in learning more about feminisms and how this theory and lens relates to design. We appreciate that the term ‘feminism’ means many things to many people, and it is part of our mission to hold some of those tensions and explore our own positionalities towards this term. While defining the term is not a straightforward thing, we do have some non-negotiable concerns: our group is explicitly trans-inclusive, anti-racist, and pluriversal.
The word ‘feminism’ comes from women’s liberation movements, but since then has expanded to address wider issues of inequity, of exclusion and inclusion; notions of embedded care and ethics in research processes; explorations of liberatory practices. This is why our group uses the pluralist ‘feminisms’ – to highlight the plurality of this theory, methodology, and politic. What this means in practice, is that we embed our feminist values we have as people and as design researchers and that we work towards more equitable partnerships and relationships in our research. We value each person who contributes to a project for their unique knowledge, and actively encourage more diverse people to participate. We are building a community to actively grow solidarity and a community of support for those interested in exploring this identity.
We work collaboratively with academic and non-academic partners in socially-engaged and contested research spaces to produce both knowledge and action. This is informed by our explicit political commitments to equity, class struggle, decolonial, and anti-racism work, as well as our participatory, collaborative, and critical research approaches. We work with people, communities, and topics that are made vulnerable or marginal and problematise institutional responses to these marginalizations through design-led approaches.
Ultimately, we think with and through design to understand and build pluralist socially just futures, starting from the margins. We do this by generating impactful research and building an inclusive, interdisciplinary, and welcoming community for diverse researchers across disciplines at Northumbria’s School of Design.