Society News

24 March 2020

As all possible efforts globally should be focused upon protecting and saving life and wellbeing, the Trustees are committed to ensuring that no one should put themselves at any risk whatsoever on behalf of work relating to or funded by the Society. The DHS is postponing all our activities that involve direct social contact for the foreseeable time.

Many of us are attempting an immediate and paradigm-shifting transformation of the practice of design history from the direct human interactions of making, curating, teaching and research into essentially virtual endeavour and dialogue. To counter the impact of social isolation and to foster a sense of community, we invite all our members and followers from around the globe to share your insights and experiences about this process through the Design History Society’s social media channels.

Whilst staying home to save lives, might we want to share our reflections and images of symbolic objects which populate our now more intimate worlds, at once refuge and cell? As most colleagues are embracing entirely online learning and teaching for the first time, would it not be a great resource and help to share strategies and examples of how you are envisioning the pedagogy and pragmatics of this Herculean undertaking? How will we ensure fairness in the assessment of student work and peer review of design-historical research as we navigate the current inaccessibility of the material world and archives as well as the infrastructure needed to engage with these core evidence bases of our field?

Across all our economies, creative industries and academic sectors, huge numbers of colleagues have long been forced to rely on contracts or self employment which now leave them utterly unsupported and vulnerable. The Design History Society wishes to express its solidarity and deep concern for cultural workers of all kinds in these uncertain and anxious times. Sharing any advice about how to navigate these distressing and immediate pressures with each other would be welcome.

The path ahead for each and all of us is impossible to discern. Sharing ideas and hopes together across our diverse and global community of practice, learning and scholarship might bring some comfort and reassurance. Though isolated, let us try to make every effort to ensure no one feels abandoned or alone. As design historians, our fascination with embodiment and the everyday must be reimagined; let us stand together virtually as we find ways forward.

Take care of yourselves and everyone you can; all our best wishes and hopes for spring and better days ahead.

Claire O’Mahony


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