Design History Society 2018 Conference – Call for Papers

Call for Papers
Design and Displacement
Design History Society Annual Conference 2018
Parsons School of Design, New York, New York
September 6th-8th, 2018
 Click here to visit the conference website


The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that by the end of 2016 some 65.6 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide–a number not seen since the end of World War II. On average, 20 people were driven from their homes every minute last year.  The challenges faced by vast numbers of migrants and refugees uprooted by war, persecution, ecological crises, natural disasters, or even relocating in search of economic opportunity, are often urgent, and, unfortunately, all too familiar.

The movement of populations has spurred–and continues to spur–great changes in the cultural landscape in general and design in particular, both positive and problematic. Displacement creates opportunities for cross-cultural dialogues and inspires design solutions, whether they be related to objects used for disaster relief, temporary housing for displaced persons during wartime or following natural disasters, or more substantial and lasting interventions into the landscape, such as the exponential and necessary growth of cities.

This conference will examine displacement and attendant issues from a design perspective. In addition to the current displacement of people and populations, papers can consider the theme more broadly and historically, including connections among displacement of objects and styles, changing technologies, and broad geographies and histories related to landscapes and urban development.

Topics might deal with such issues as:

Design and the Displacement of Peoples

-issues of immigration and emigration

-camps and disaster relief

-colonialism, post-colonialism, and the displacement or replacement of cultures

-exiles and exile culture

-passports and borders

-asylum seekers and climate refugees


Displacement of Objects and Styles

-the history of museums and  travelling exhibitions

-collecting and collections, displacing objects from one context to another

-debates over the repatriation of artifacts

-expositions and World’s Fairs as institutions of decontextualizing objects and people

-reuse or misuse

-recycling or upcycling as a form of displacement

-transference or forgeries


-exoticism and appropriation of styles

-cycles of fashion

The Design of Displacement

-urban sprawl

-gentrification and displacement within cities

-moving or removing monuments

-landscape design and earthworks

-technological upgrades

-changing approaches in design pedagogy and education

-innovation and disruption


We invite contributions from design historians and scholars and academics in related fields as well as practitioners, design educators, museum professionals, and students.

Individual papers of 20 minutes, or proposals for full panels of three papers related to the samples or relevant to the theme of displacement, will be considered. Panel proposals must include abstracts for all three papers in addition to a short description of the panel theme.

All proposals will be double-blind reviewed and selected by the conference committee. Submissions are due Monday, January 29th, 2018 and should:

  • be sent in the form of an MS Word document
  • not exceed 300 words
  • include the title of the paper
  • include the author’s full name, title, position, and institution
  • include a brief professional biography (not exceeding 50 words)


Submissions should be sent to:


The Design History Society offers many bursaries for student speakers whose abstracts have been accepted and who are members of the Design History Society.



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