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Renegotiating the Narrative in Global Design Histories

Unit(s) of assessment: Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

Research theme: Global Heritage

School: School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment


In this research project, we are investigating what it means for those commonly thought of as ‘other’ to be within a context both local and international. How does it feel to know one is peripheral but also central? How do we know when we are, and how can we see it in the everyday? How do we claim back agency when we live in the shadow of the international?

Addressing the Challenge

This research intends to address other concerns not yet explored, of centrality, periphery, conflict, subversion, and dialogue with the hegemony of patriarchal, often Western, modernisation. In interrogating in more depth how non-Western narratives in global design history construct themselves in relation to the international, the accepted canonical, and their challenge to the status quo, it is intended that this research itself will be a challenge to the hegemony and centrality of the West in design history.


This project came about from a conversation between Dr Hui-Ying Kerr and Rebecca Bell on the nature of their research – how the two different areas of 1980s ultra-capitalist Japan and Soviet Czechoslovakia related to each other, both on opposite sides of the spectrum and the world, whilst inhabiting a similar time period.

What linked these two worlds together was their sense of being sandwiched between cultures; of being on the periphery. From this was born the idea of negotiating internationalism itself, and the assertion of an agency born in the periphery, and accepted by the Design History Society for their affiliated panel at the College Arts Association Annual Conference, CAA 2018.

Making a Difference

It is projected that this networking event will provide opportunity to continue conversations in this area, redefining boundaries and urgencies in the research, and culminating in a directed journal article for the Journal of Design History, and the identification of potential avenues for further funded research.

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