Chicano Independent Publication Masthead Design

Made during research visits at university libraries in Texas and California, hubs of the Chicano movement.

Joshua Duttweiler
Assistant Professor
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Alexandria Victoria Canchola
Assistant Professor
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

We demonstrate how the design of Chicano independent publication mastheads from the 1960’s and 1970’s in the United States used the visual language of the Chicano community to engage directly with their audience. In publication design, mastheads serve as the reader’s first indication as to a publication’s purpose and credibility. Our analysis of these independent publications is based on observations made during research visits at university libraries in Texas and California, hubs of the Chicano movement. Based on our research, the mastheads used typography, icons, and organization symbols to attract readers in service to the publication’s goals of raising awareness on local issues such as labor inequality and racial violence. The efforts made by these publications not only mobilized their audience to fight for social justice but utilized visual means as a way of uniting their readers toward a cause.

These Chicano publications, not typically referenced in the traditional white graphic design canon, provide an opportunity to learn from past designers in a parallel time of societal unrest and analyze their successful methods of advocacy and activism. The political climate of the time cultivated diverse printing practitioners; far different than the editorial staffs we see today. Activists, many without formal design training, worked to combine text and images into design that would speak to their audience. By observing the evolution of masthead design throughout the Chicano movement we can observe the progress of the publication designers’ skill as they sought to increase their audience and ability to communicate.

By understanding the role and unity of the visual language of independent Chicano newspapers, we encourage designers, historians, and students to further investigate the design semiotics of community-focused publications both within its historical context and contemporary practice.

This design research was presented at Design Incubation Colloquium 9.2: Annual CAA Conference 2023 (Virtual) on Saturday, February 18, 2023.

Slowing Production, Increasing Socio-Political Context: Beyond “Spreading Awareness” in the Design Classroom

A feminist base motivates us to engage questions around power relations, knowledge production, and systems of violence

Becky Nasadowski
Assistant Professor
University of Tennessee at Chattanoo

In recent years, many universities have embraced “diversity” with oblique statements of support. Related, design educators have rightfully sought strategies for inclusive pedagogy, increasing representation and working toward ensuring the classroom is comfortable. But inclusive is not synonymous with anti-racist, which requires antagonism and a reckoning with the pervasive inequities baked into our different fields and methods, the university, and our social relationships and histories.

In this presentation, I will provide an overview of my studio-seminar course Politics and Ethics of Design, where a feminist base motivates us to engage questions around power relations, knowledge production, and systems of violence. A substantial reading list frames sustained conversations on the politics of race, class, and gender as it relates to the field of design, creating a critical foundation for design practice. Select topics include data feminism and counter cartography, the designer’s role in constructing notions of citizenship, the limits of empathy in design thinking, and the neoliberal entanglement of work and passion. 

By providing an anchor through reading and conversation, I ask design students to consider in their studio practice urgent questions: How do we respond to historical omissions? How do we interface with social movements? How do we act with an awareness of history that complicates liberal concepts of empathy as paramount? If we want students to engage power and sincerely explore what an anti-racist practice and education look like, then we need to fully engage in how design has traditionally played—and continues to play—a role in bolstering social inequity.

This design research was presented at Design Incubation Colloquium 9.2: Annual CAA Conference 2023 (Virtual) on Saturday, February 18, 2023.

Forensic Abstraction in Israel/Palestine: the Graphic Representations of Bodies in Citizen Media

The forensic visual investigations, from a design research perspective, using B’Tselem video in Israel/Palestine

Liat Berdugo
Assistant Professor
University of San Francisco

What kinds of images spark social change? What kinds of images demand justice? Since 2013, Berdugo has been researching in the video archives of B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization that distributes cameras to Palestinians living in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip and gathers the footage. A camera is given to a Palestinian with the conviction that “seeing is believing,” or that visual recordings will cause change to the sociopolitical order. Yet, in recent years, citizen media have been elevated not as visual evidence in and of themselves, but as material for advanced “visual” or “forensic” investigations by firms like Forensic Architecture, Bellingcat, and New York Times Visual Investigations. Such investigations amalgamate numerous citizen-recorded videos to create a final, forensically abstracted result that “proves” a human rights violation occurred. 

 This talk studies the forensic visual investigations using B’Tselem video in Israel/Palestine from a design research perspective, and specifically interrogates the graphic representation of Palestinian bodies in such investigations. For instance, Forensic Architecture frequently abstracts and instrumentalizes the images of Palestinian bodies for the task of synchronizing videos. Such visual abstractions both homogenize and erase Palestinian bodies from view — two key tactics utilized by the Israeli occupation to discredit and dehumanize Palestinians at large. However, such forensic abstractions also support the Palestinian appeal to the concept of a “pre-social body”—a body that exists before gender, nationality, ethnicity, race, class, age, or other social categories have marked it—as a means of access to human rights. In sum, this talk asks whether forensically abstracted images demand justice more vehemently than raw media. 

 This talk draws from Berdugo’s new book, The Weaponized Camera In the Middle East (Bloombsury/I.B.Tauris, 2021), for which a proposal was originally developed at a Design Incubation Fellowship in 2018.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 7.3: Florida Atlantic University on Saturday, April 10, 2021.