‘Design Ethics: Originality, Ownership and the Limits of Protection’ by Dr. Jane Lynch

Dr. Jane Lynch from Center for South Asian Studies, University of Michigan, USA presented his research entitled ‘Design Ethics: Originality, Ownership and the Limits of Protection’ at the Sociological Research Colloquium.

When: Friday, 13th October 2017 at 3:00 p.m.

Where: Seminar Room (First Floor), Department of Sociology, University of Delhi 


In the 1950s and 1960s, design was institutionalized as an idiom of intervention in India’s craft industries. Government officials and craft advocates sought to establish the medium of design as a tool for restoring the integrity of artisanal goods and defining their place in the political economy of independent India. Drawing on ethnographic and archival research, this paper traces this genealogy of design and the role of designers from the 1950s to the present—as mediators, innovators, and entrepreneurs—in the manufacture of craft. In particular, I examine how designers have conceived of their work in social and material terms. What kind of responsibility do designers have to the artisans with whom they work? When and how do designers define and defend craft-based designs as their own intellectual property? How do they make these claims in relation to craft communities? This paper casts light not only on the competing kinds of “property” that craft is taken to be, but also on the different ways in which the ethics of design are defined. At the center of these ideas about property and ethics lies the question of what is free for the taking and to whom it is “free.” In other words, these are not merely material ideologies, but moral claims as well. 

 About the Speaker

Jane Lynch is a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome for the 2016-17 academic year. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Michigan in December 2016. She also holds a M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Michigan, a M.A. in Social Science from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. with honors in Anthropology from Columbia University. Her dissertation research on the political economy of handloom textile production in India—and, in particular, “market ethics” in the context of entrepreneurial and institutional efforts to revitalize this industry—has been supported by fellowships from Fulbright and the Wenner-Gren Foundation, among others. She has published in Current Anthropology and Regional Labor Review and presented her research at numerous conferences, including the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association and the Annual Conference on South Asia at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.  

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