Voice Manifest: The theory and practice of collective expression

This class came together after years if not decades of watching design (as we now call it) move from its craft/popular roots from within the printing traditions, signmaking, etc. to its current uniform status as a tool of Capital, an elitist domain removed from those it claims to speak to/for and communicate with. Unsurprisingly, design pedagogy in the Third World leans heavily and decidedly on these remnants of colonialism, imperialism, Orientalism, and globalization in an effort to “look West” which entails acting, speaking, and being “Western”, and despite local media and manifestations that are marked and redefined as “passé” or simple “vernacular”, to mine and expropriate as need be.

The class is not reductive and does not posit a false binary of “East” vs. “West”, but more precisely one of the local from within the big picture and as compared to the global; of class difference as opposed to the usually discussed markers of distinction such as race or sect. The class reiterates that we, as active agents of communication, find ourselves bound by the status quo, the dominant discourse, the hegemony of political, economic, and cultural systems. This class was an attempt to connect the dots, and see how those acting creatively in terms of their resistance manage to go up against what is often considered to be a given, our lived condition with no egress possible.


This documentary discusses the conviction of Leonard Peltier, an indigenous Indian American, after a shooting incident at Oglala. It portrays the level of discrimination his people are subject to, reminding us at the local level of the state of Palestinian refugees in the Lebanese camps.

The comparison to the Palestinian refugees carried over to the notion of two nations who share a founding mythology based on religious persecution, a chosen people, a manifest destiny, and the destruction of the indigenous population. Also examined was the role of formalized language and its use as a tool of oppression, in this case, in the U.S. court system.

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About Daniel Drennan ElAwar

Adoptee, rematriated.
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