Posted to the Ethnos Project by on January 16th, 2015

For anthropologists, the incorporation of local knowledge and experience becomes a fundamental challenge in the practice of participatory design (PD). This is particularly the case in the field of community informatics, in which the introduction of technology in collective spaces further complicates the design activity. The empirical studies to date that have stories, strategies, and ideas to share from the field suggest that long-term immersion in the field, enduring partnerships with communities, and meaningful knowledge exchange are essential elements for a truly participatory and culture-centric PD in community informatics. However, the heterogeneous values, experiences, and practices that characterise local spaces of participation do not always allow for the effective and meaningful translation of PD activities. Working in this “indigenous logic” remains a complex and often inconceivable task for community members, designers and informaticians alike. It can be useful, conversely, to consider this task as a design-anthropological problem, that has theoretical and methodological implications for participatory design.

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