Carnegie Mellon University, USA
Critical Jugaad: A (Post) Critical Investigation into Marginal Making Practices from Beyond the Anglo-European Sphere
The practice of making as a viable, sustainable and social means of production is paramount in the subsistence and survival of maker ecologies, especially those of the Global South. The nascent maker ecologies of the Western societies are predominantly rooted in the desire to create an exclusionary identity from that of the mainstream neo-liberal economy and aim to create a cultural capital rooted in the need for self-actualization along with the desire to mobilize a progressive future. However, the aspect of the western notion of ‘making’, although coming from a good position, does not fully capture the intentions and imperatives behind the ‘maker ecologies’ from the Global South in its entirety. The author posits that making practices of the Global South are not only manifested in their craft industry, but also in the everyday practice of make-do in face of adversity commonly referred by the term ‘Jugaad’– a hindi word expressing the act of making go and getting by in conditions of scarcity of resources. ‘ If, Making futures’, concerns itself with the exploring the problematique through the optic of contemporary craft and neo-artisanal maker movements from a western perspective only, it risks being myopic by ignoring the pervasive informal making practices around the world characterised by the notion of Jugaad. The author intends to investigate a post-normal turn in generating an understanding the concept of ‘maker’ from a non-western perspective and highlight the critical value of ‘making practices’ of the global south marked by resilient culture and a strong desire to survive and resist; and additionally, explore the implications of such practices in our collective futures. We must look towards practices happening outside of the Anglo-European center to find alternatives, something that the author have explored in curating the works they classified as post-normal design through the exhibition Climactic: Post Normal Design (2016). The author intends to explore such practices and Exploring the idea of Jugaad as a spectrum of critical making practices, the author brings forth several examples from the Global South such as the local metal workshops of Kenya and the practice of making artifacts out of discarded excess materials, known as Jua-Kali. These workshops informally operate as small scale maker ecologies and provide the communities with artifacts that support everyday life, only that these spaces are not called makerspaces and fablabs. The practice of Jua-Kali and it's speculated futuristic expression in Afrofuturism, is manifested through the work of artist Cyrus Kabiru, who redefines the relationship between fashion and making with a postcolonial critique. The author also brings to attention the examples of maker communities formed around such practices as global networks of resistance to oppression, through the examples of homemade artifacts such as gas masks. The author intends to bring forth alternative, often non-linear, positions of making, from a decolonial perspective, that emerge at the intersections of survival and expression. These practices are a reflection of the true human condition that constantly negotiates its values in the ever changing landscape of modernity.