Create & connect: empowering female artisan craft makers in Zanzibar through design thinking.

HANSON, Maria and LEVICK-PARKIN, Melanie (2016). Create & connect: empowering female artisan craft makers in Zanzibar through design thinking. Making Futures Journal, 4.

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As we navigate through our lives we often collect and keep mementoes, souvenirs and found objects that remind us of significant moments, times, places and experiences. International tourism has since the 1960's been viewed as a major contributor in the economic development for many LDC's (less developed countries)(OECD, 1967). The Zanzibar archipelago, Tanzania is a good illustration of a LDC heavily dependent on tourism, accounting for 44% of its GDP in 2007 (RGOZ, 2009). While tourists buy souvenirs to retain affective connectivity to the place and the people they visited, the majority of souvenirs sold in Zanzibar are currently imported with no link to Zanzibar’s rich and very distinct Swahili cultural heritage (VSO, SNV 2010).Although the sharing with visitors of local traditions of craft-making can be an important source of social and economic empowerment for women, many Zanzibar women are excluded due to the laws of Islam being the predominant faith. This paper presents initial findings from a multidisciplinary research project started in 2014 that brings together researchers from tourism, craft practice and service design. Focusing on female artisan craft producers and the tourist market in Zanzibar (Tanzania) it aims to: • Understand the socio-cultural links and identity of crafted souvenirs and the practices of production. • Identify barriers and creative opportunities • Test co-creative design thinking strategies as a methodology to empower female craft makers • Explore ways to increase links between maker and market. Create & Connect uses a range of Participatory Action Research (PAR) methods and toolkits in order to capture viewpoints of all stakeholders involved in the product chain from maker to market. This includes working with Zanzibar artisans through practical co-creation strategies, and by sequencing the experiences of producers, consumers and other stakeholders. The pilot workshops were undertaken in Collaboration with the Zenji Foundations Chako recycling workplace and explored how design thinking (and seeing) can be used in a shared, practice led research process in order to ensure that ideas are formed collaboratively. It was important to adhere to a participatory design approach where the design and research would be with the users and not only on behalf of them. (Spinuzzi, 2005)As we were trying to imagine ‘oneself into another person’s world’ (Gunn & Donovan, 2012) we realised that coming into these women’s world and showing them how to ‘design’ things better was not going to be enough, even if the designing was to be done collaboratively. The workshops centred on meaning-making in design and how objects talk to people by the way they look and feel. Through co-creative activities participants engaged in a dialogue about materials and objects and through design thinking they began to feel empowered todetermine what an object might say based on their own, rather than others ideas. Keyword: Design thinking, Participatory action research, Craft, Jewellery, Overseas development

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Originally presented as the September 2015 Making Futures IV conference presentations
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Art and Design Research Centre
Depositing User: Maria Hanson
Date Deposited: 28 Apr 2016 13:53
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2021 17:46

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