Namibian narratives: The role of design in social expression

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractScientific


In this paper the narrative potential of Namibian designed objects and the role narratives play in facilitating their understanding, also in the specific contexts where they are placed, are explored. The historical, social, environmental and material contexts in which Namibian objects are designed, made and positioned shape their narrative potential. Objects gain narrative ability through significations which derive from the contexts from which they originate, such as their narratives of making, the stories of their designer(s)/maker(s) and their environments. The narratives of spaces and contexts in which objects are positioned after they have become independent from their designer(s)/maker(s), also contribute to their narrative potential, but especially these narratives have the potential to become potently dominant. Due to the connective qualities of narrative, I argue that design is able to constrain dominant narratives by disseminating and (re)designing narratives connected to objects. In this way new and audible narratives, that facilitate new signification processes about objects, their makers and the spaces in which they are positioned, offer the curating world new possibilities. In this paper, case studies deriving from extensive field work in Namibia will be used to illustrate how narratives aid design as a means of social expression.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
MoEC publication typeNot Eligible
EventDeregulating Looking and Curating Design Symposium - Curtin University, Perth, Australia
Duration: 15 May 201416 May 2014


ConferenceDeregulating Looking and Curating Design Symposium


  • Namibia, craft, design

Field of science

  • Visual arts and design


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