The Case for Minor Gestures

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Danah Abdulla
Pedro J. S. Vieira de Oliveira


This paper lays out the groundwork for a concept we define as minor gestures within design education. Moving away from a conversation centered around decolonization—a term, we argue, that has been co-opted to become a placeholder for equality, diversity, and inclusion, and tick-box exercises within academic institutions— we assert that minor gestures create the conditions for meaningful conversations on what it actually means to move towards decolonizing design education. Using examples from our own pedagogical practices, we sketch out and outline a proposition for minor gestures as theory-in-the-making, or an incomplete pathway towards meaningful, structural change.


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How to Cite
Abdulla, D., & Vieira de Oliveira, P. J. S. (2023). The Case for Minor Gestures. Diseña, (22), Article.6.
Original articles
Author Biographies

Danah Abdulla, University of the Arts London

Ph.D. in Design, Goldsmiths, University of Lon­don. Designer, educator, and researcher, currently she holds the position of Program Director of Graphic Design at Camberwell, Chelsea, and Wimbledon Colleges of Art (University of the Arts London). She is a founding member of the Decolonising Design platform. Her research focuses on new design narratives and practices, decolonizing design, possibilities of design education, design culture(s) in the Arab region, the politics of design, and publishing. Recent publications include Designerly Ways of Knowing: A Working Inventory of Things a Designer Should Know (2022, Onomatopee), ‘Keep Your Distance, Wear a Mask and Stay Safe: The Visual Language of Covid-19 Print-based Signageʼ (Visual Resources, Vol. 36, Issue 3), and ‘Disciplinary Disobedien­ce: A Border-thinking Approach to Design” (in Design Struggles: Intersecting Histories, Pedagogies, and Perspectives; Valiz, 2021).

Pedro J. S. Vieira de Oliveira, Independent Researcher

Ph.D., Universität der Künste Berlin. After obtaining a BA degree in Graphic Design from the Universidade Estadual Paulista, he obtained a MA degree from the Hochschule für Künste Bremen. Independent researcher, sound artist, and educator, he is a former Postdoctoral Fellow in the Arts at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. He is a founding member of the Decolonising Design platform. Recent publications include ‘On the Persistence of Colonial Listening in Germanyʼ (The Journal of Media Art Study and Theory, Vol. 2, Issue 2), ‘The Earview as a Border Epistemology: An Analytical and Pedagogical Proposition for Designʼ (in Bloomsbury Handbook of Sonic Methodologies; Bloomsbury, 2021), ‘Dealing with Disaster: Notes toward a Decolonizing, Aesthetico-Relational Sound Artʼ (in Bloomsbury Handbook of Sound Art; Bloomsbury, 2021), and ‘Weaponizing Quietness: Sound Bombs and the Racialization of Noiseʼ (Design and Culture, Vol. 11, Issue 2).


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