SHORT_PAPER_79_Decolonising_Textiles_Tools.pdf (2.26 MB)

Decolonising Textile Tools

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Version 3 2023-08-10, 14:13
Version 2 2023-08-10, 14:09
Version 1 2023-07-25, 21:37
conference contribution
posted on 2023-08-10, 14:13 authored by Raisa Kabir, Claire Anderson

 This paper reports on the process of introducing decolonial textiles pedagogy within the Textile design programme at Chelsea College of Arts, researching and testing what works in this design educational environment and measuring the success of outcomes. Decolonisation within higher education is at risk of becoming a buzzword without in reality achieving change (Crilly, 2019). However, the ongoing lived impacts of the colonial on knowledge production and more specifically textile knowledge production demands an active response within the context of textile design education. 

The Decolonising Textiles Tools project explored textile making, designing, and using tools that are de-centered from euro-centric technology and thinking frameworks. Too often designers are removed from the centres of production, by starting with the ‘tools’– we can re-situate our perspective on textile making and machinery. 

The aim of the project, delivered across one academic year, was to enable students to critically engage with what it means to be a socially and environmentally responsible designer decolonising the way we imagine textile production. Students explored the relationship between low technologies and climate racism/justice through experimentation with low-impact design/making methods. 

In questioning how cultural imperialism affects textile identities related to place, land, culture, and language, students began to evaluate strands of global textile thinking. The critical intention of the project examined whether an embodied practice could innovate and make us think post industrially about textile design, altering our understanding of the euro-centric viewpoint of contemporary textile design education. Rather than taking a ‘tokenistic approach’ (Israel, 2019, pg 7) to inclusivity this brief gave students a voice and choice in the tools which they worked with. Investigating the decolonisation of textile technologies through two parallel and interconnected tracks: (1) hands-on experimentation (2) theoretical study into the broader transnational topics of the project. 


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