TALK: ON DEVELOPING QUEER PEDAGOGIES FOR DESIGN EDUCATION IN INDIA
The importance of diversity in higher education and its centrality in achieving key educational goals and outcomes is well established. This diversity is usually looked at through the lens of gender, ethnicity, class and caste. However, spaces are saturated with heterosexual assumptions, normalizing particular sexualities while marginalizing others. This marginalizing of ‘others’ extends in the educational spaces, which tend to be highly conservative and reactionary fields. Studies underline a range of challenges for ‘others’ or queer populations in higher education settings, arguing that queer students are most frequently affected by discrimination in an extremely public setting.
This heteronormativity also pervades in the knowledge production at design schools. For example, out of the 4183 graduation projects produced at National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, only two projects respond to, or attend to the queer subject (as of 2018, online database). In his presentation Shemal examines the relationship between existing design pedagogy and queer identities, the pervasiveness of heteronormativity in design pedagogy, the educator-student relationship in a pedagogic practice and the complexities in the role of sexual identity in educational environments. He tries to understand the strategies and tactics used by both students and educators to subvert, comply with or distort the existing institutional structures. He also focuses on the role of reflexivity and awareness to bring transformation and his experience in conducting a privilege walk in relationship with his own gender and sexual identity. He concludes with musings upon the development of queer pedagogies at National Institute of Design, and at other design institutes where he currently works.