I wanted to provide at least a glimpse of what I’m imagining.

Capitalism is a totalizing system. It’s the water we swim in. So much of what seems natural is, in fact, deeply shaped by capitalism. How then might we “unthink capitalism,” that is, think in ways that are not constrained by the fundamental values capitalism instills? In these workshops the aim is to challenge fundamental and often fundamentally invisible “realities” produced by our moment, modernity, and more. In Week 1, beginning with Being and Land(ing), we will ask where do we find ourselves? What does it mean to be? Key ideas will come from Indigenous authors, who challenge notions of the objectivity of Western scientific models, and who insist upon the necessity of recognizing land as kin. We will challenge ourselves and each other to be in relation to beings, rather than work, labor, or profession. Week 2 we will unpick Time and our experiences of it. Week 3 draws on Black studies and in particular Black feminism to ask what it means to be human. Week 4 engages with the possible and imaginings of what the possible might possibly be.

Each week we will move across modalities. Academics are trained to explore the world through language: talking, reading, and writing. Designers are trained to explore the world through making, aesthetics and materials. The idea is for all of us to dip our toes into unfamiliar and perhaps uncomfortable ways of learning. Along the way, if you teach, maybe some of what we try might be something you can take with you to your classroom.

Some of the things we will try – visual strategies for close reading; different discussion platforms; mixing audio/visual/making modalities as ways to process information. Making as thinking. Etc. The syllabus is a living document to which I hope many will feel free to contribute.

Each week has a list of readings, a viewlist, and a playlist. These represent a range of things that influenced or sparked my own thinking, individually or in combination. I will let you know what is useful to read or watch ahead of time, but will keep those things to a minimum. Mostly these resources are there for you to explore when you’re able, interested, called. We’re all busy!

To prepare ahead

Each three-hour session will involve talking, thinking, and making. To be ready, it would be great if you could do the following:

  • Set up an account in Miro and take the basic tutorial if you are unfamiliar with how it works.
  • Purchase the supplies for the week 2 “ten minute technology project”
  • Have making supplies on hand. Nothing fancy! For instance:
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Paper (any kind/variety)
  • Pens/pencils/markers

Other good things:

  • Pipe cleaners
  • Egg cartons/cardboard
  • Wire twisties
  • Popsicle sticks, etc.
  • Fabric scraps
  • Glue
  • Thread
  • yarn

Week 1 Being and Land(ing)

How can we bring ourselves to this space, into relation with each other and the beings around us, in a good way?

For week one,

I recommend that you read the introduction to Archaeologies of the Heart beforehand. As you think through that piece, You might try substituting your own profession/specialty/identity for “archaeology” as you read.

Also do watch the David Harvey lecture one on Reading Capital. He covers key basic concepts and his lecture is clear, generous, and (in my opinion) a joy to watch. You might try just having it on while you are doing something else.


Some readings that I turned to in thinking about this. I try to emphasize things you can find free or low cost.

Chin, Elizabeth. “Bauhaus and the People Without Design History.” In Bauhaus Futures, edited by Laura Forlano, Molly Wright Steenson, and Mike Ananny, 85–94. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2019.

Sexton, Jared. “The Vel of Slavery: Tracking the Figure of the Unsovereign.” Critical Sociology 42, no. 4–5 (July 1, 2016): 583–97. Pdf available online here.

Arturo Escobar, Pluriversal Politics

Supernant, Kisha, Jane Eva Baxter, Natasha Lyons, and Sonya Atalay, eds. Archaeologies of the Heart. Springer International Publishing, 2020.

MoreWolfe, Patrick. “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native.” Journal of Genocide Research 8, no. 4 (December 1, 2006): 387–409.


David Harvey  — I’m a fan of visualizing theory as a great exercise, but this lecture is in many ways particularly valuable for visually oriented people who might find reading Marx hard going. (To be fair, many reading oriented people find Marx hard going.)

Suggestion: listen to this lecture, and sketch or doodle as you listen.  Esp in latter half of lecture, you might want to draw ideas/relationships/connections.  Feel free to share results, ideas, questions.  No such thing as a right answer or a wrong answer.


Imagine Otherwise: Maile Arvin on Kuleana and Indigenous Feminist Community

Week 2 TIME

Things to read

EP Thompson, Time, Work Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism. PDF

Mark Rifkin, Beyond Settler Time.

Kara Keeling, Queer Times, Black Futures

The Funambulist: Indigenous Futures (to be published July 1)

Gan, Elaine. “Diagrams: Making Multispecies Temporalities Visible,” May 28, 2021.

Ten Minute Tech Project: recording stethoscope

We will do this during the workshop.

You will need:

  • stethoscope
  • microphone — either USB or 2.5mm jack (depending on how you want to plug it into your computer)
  • Scissors
  • Hair dryer
  • A sound recording app or program. I use the open source program audacity. (I am so NOT an expert user!)

Things to look at:

Chaos Metronome


Moor Mother , Zami

View List

Kara Keeling

Week 3: The Human


The struggle of our new millennium will be one between the ongoing imperative of securing the well-being of our present ethnoclass (i.e., Western bourgeois) conception of the human, Man, which overrepresents itself as if it were the human itself, and that of securing the well-being, and therefore the full cognitive and behavioral autonomy of the human species itself/ourselves.

Maya Stovall, Liquor Store Theatre (you can read the book’s introduction at the link)

Guffey, Elizabeth. 2012. “Knowing Their Space: Signs of Jim Crow in the Segregated South.” Design Issues 28 (2): 41–60. (See slack)


Liquor Store Theatre vol 4 no 4

Lauren Williams: La Lucha de los Raices

Hank Willis Thomas (Duke U talk)

Week 4: The Possible

Speculation beyond capitalism? Given the recent and spectacular space flights, I thought it would be fun/instructive to look at a couple of examples of space travel from “different perspectives.” The 6th World and Let This be a Warning both envision future space travel in ways radically different from Blue Origin, materially, aesthetically, culturally. Let’s talk about those visions and assumptions! I’ve also asked you to explore the really wonderful book Phone and Spear by Myarrka Media, and to look at the introductory chapter to Black Utopias by Jayna Brown. DJ Trischler has also shared some lectures on the Slack — it all adds up to some very interesting and provocative material. No need to try to wrestle with every single thing. Try items out/on for size and see where they lead you.

Beyond Whiteness? Beyond design-as-capitalist-without-question?

Myarrka Media, Phone and Spear

Excerpts from Black Utopia (see Slack)

Watch: The 6th world, (Navajo)

Let This be a Warning by NEST collective (Nigeria)

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