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UAL Research Online

Against Performative Positivity

Abdulla, Danah (2021) Against Performative Positivity.

Type of Research: Other
Creators: Abdulla, Danah

I am considered a pessimist—the ‘Daria’ of design—whose standards are too high and too critical. Designers, I would argue, are afraid to embrace dissent because it disrupts the positivity bubble. I would describe designers as the very embodiment of the motivational posters in bad typefaces that we constantly critique. We are performing optimism. And I am anti optimism. So why am I against optimism?

Optimism should not be mistaken for hope. As political activist Barbara Ehrenreich states in her 2009 book Smile or Die: “Hope is an emotion, a yearning, the experience of which is not entirely within our control. Optimism is a cognitive stance, a conscious expectation, which presumably anyone can develop through practice.” And I refuse to practice it, because optimism in design is not always constructive. In fact, it hinders the politicization of designers. If design is going to contribute to tools that can change the world positively, it must begin to embrace pessimism.


Official Website: https://futuress.org/magazine/against-performative-positivity/
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Camberwell College of Arts
Colleges > Chelsea College of Arts
Colleges > Wimbledon College of Arts
Date: 18 January 2021
Related Websites: https://futuress.org/magazine/against-performative-positivity/
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Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2021 15:43
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2021 15:43
Item ID: 16515
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/16515

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