Synthetic Ecologies: Design and the Ecological Imagination
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Daou Ornelas, Daniel
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CitationDaou Ornelas, Daniel. 2021. Synthetic Ecologies: Design and the Ecological Imagination. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Design.
AbstractThe present historical condition has been characterized by the impasse between two seemingly opposing narratives, one of modernization, mastery, and progress (usually associated to economic growth), and another of interdependence, precaution, and balance (usually associated to ecological integrity).
In addressing the relationship between design and ecology, this dissertation’s aims are threefold.
First, it problematizes the relationship between design and ecology defined by the apparently self-evident discourse of mainstream environmentalism developed since the seventies around the institutional notion of sustainability. The dissertation reveals how ecology, in its different acceptations (as a scientific field, a synonym for environmentalism, and a particular worldview) played a central role in the processes of de-politicization and re-politicization of design discourse, first as a cultural metaphor in the theoretical writings of the late 1990s and early 2000s, then as the result from the maturation of political ecology accelerated by the Global Financial Crash of 2007-9.
Second, drawing from a comparative literature analysis of representative texts from different bodies of ecological scholarship (environmentalism, techno-managerialism, political ecology, and ecological philosophy), the dissertation probes the limits of different instances of the ecological metaphor and the effect these have on the construction of political narratives.
Third, the dissertation rearticulates the relationship between design and ecology (now understood as an aesthetic as much as a political problem) asserting that the current cultural impasse can be overcome if politico-ecologic problems are restated as design problems.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37369524