Deepa Butoliya

Deepa Butoliya is a designer, researcher, educator and currently a doctoral candidate at Carnegie Mellon University. Deepa has a background that spans across Architecture, Industrial Design, Design Research, User Experience Research and Design Education. Deepa’s work is rooted in exploring critical designerly practices from the Global South.


Critical Jugaad

My work is about analyzing and situating jugaad (hindi for “making do with what one has at hand,”) in the framework of post-critical design. The my doctoral research is rooted in the exploration of global post- critical design practice and the various modes of its representation, discourse and practice—in particular, the ways that jugaad-like practices play out at the intersection of the global south and critical design. In my research, I am asking critically vital questions including: What is the future of critical design practice? How do we move beyond a western logic of criticality in design? And how do we punctuate critical design and change its representation, discourse and practice to take into account non-western and subaltern perspectives? If the post-critical turn in literature and art was meant to expand global perspectives, it did not quite achieve its goals. As Hal Foster succinctly points out,- “The post-critical condition is supposed to release us from our straitjackets (historical, theoretical, and political), yet, for the most part, it has abetted a relativism that has little to do with pluralism.” I wish to challenge this condition by resituating critical design through a new post-critical perspective. Post-critical design is not about changing the practice of critical design, but rather about renegotiating values embodied in this practice. We need to change the discourse and make it more effective for the pluriverse we inhabit. In my thesis research, I explore how people use ingenious making practices like Jugaad as a tool for existence, subversion and criticality against colonial powers of oppression. Jugaad- like practices form cultural binders and empower people to find a collective force to fight oppression while practicing creative self-expression. This practice is a nonviolent critique that provokes and questions the techno-utopian imaginaries in such practices. Criticality is manifested through critique and criticism of the social, cultural, economic and political issues engulfing a state, through ingenious socio-material practices. This research inquiry is about tapping into the potential of such socio-material practices and the epistemology of the critical practices that happen outside the preconceived assumptions of criticality. Being Critical and driving change comes through the placing the power of critique in hands of publics. My exploration of alternative Post Normal futures takes the sense of the ‘post-normal’ from Ziauddin Sardar, who says that “to have any notion of a viable future, we must grasp the significance of this period of transition which is characterized by three c’s: complexity, chaos and contradictions.” (Sardar, 2010). We must, hence, look towards practices happening outside of the Anglo- European center to find alternatives, something that the author have explored in curating the works they classified as post-normal design through the exhibition Climactic: Post Normal Design (2016). I have co-collected and co-curated works from designers and exhibitors across the globe for an exhibition titled “Climatic Change: Post Normal Design” that was exhibited in the Carnegie Mellon Miller Gallery on November 4, 2016. This exhibition intends to draw upon works that explore and critically investigate alternative speculative futures that look beyond the Kurzweil’s singularity. Key words: Jugaad, Critical Design, Futures, Global South, Criticality, Post-Critical Design, Post Normal Design