Visualizing Histories, Overcoming Boundaries: New Methods in Design History Research

Keywords: methods of historical research, post-national, mapping, visualization, regionalism, encounter

Moderator: Jilly Traganou


Are the “Balkans” a legitimate cultural designation, and what do we gain by introducing a regional perspective in the study of design history? The regional perspective that is advocated in this symposium, that of the Balkans, is interpreted here through the prism of postnationalism: an attempt to rethink national identity, and to overcome the limitations that are installed through the exclusionist nature of the nation-state and its selective historical narratives.

This workshop will try to reframe the histories of communication design in the Balkans by looking at encounters, analogies, intersections, hybridism and transnationalism. It will also aim to nurture relations between historians and practitioners, and to inspire new collective research projects based on visualization and mapping.


Workshop participants will look for intersections and exchanges within the histories of communication design in the Balkans, by contributing to the following process of collective mapping:

1.Communication Design Timeline:
Marking significant national, regional, international events that have been important for our understanding of the histories of communication design in the region (establishment of educational institutions; major cultural, sporting, political events in which communication design played a role; conferences/ symposiums in the region; printing industry centers; publications; countercultures; etc).

2. Political Timeline:
flowchart of national/regional/world histories. Visualizing regimes of influence (post-Ottoman, post-Austro-Hungarian, Communist, Liberal Democratic, Neo-Liberal, etc.), wars, conflict, political alliances within and beyond the region.

3. Technological Timeline:
Pinpointing developments in printing, web technologies, new media

4. Mapping of Local and Trans-local Design Trends:
modernism, postmodernism, deconstruction, relations with art and other design disciplines. Locating design projects and actors of interest (designers, institutions, sponsors, editors, photographers, printing industry, museums) that have influenced the state of communication design in the region

5. Locate crossovers, common aspirations and experiences. Identify design projects
 as comparative case studies, or transnational collaborations

6. Narratives of Balkan-ness:
When do they emerge? What role does design play in them? How is Balkan identity visualized?

7. Imagining new convergences, inventing future possibilities

Biographical note:

Jilly Traganou is Associate Professor in Spatial Design Studies in the School of Art and Design History and Theory at Parsons The New School for Design in New York. She is an architect by training and holds a PhD in architecture from the University of Westminster. She is the author of The Tokaido Road: Traveling and Representation in Edo and Meiji Japan (CurzonRoutledge, 2003), co-editor with Miodrag Mitrasinovic of Travel, Space, Architecture (Ashgate, 2009) and she is currently working on a new book titled Designing the Olympics (contracted by Routledge). She is Reviews Editor of the Journal of Design History (Oxford University Press).


If you would like to be a discussant for this workshop theme, please follow the link:

For instructions on submissions/applications, please go to ‘CFP and Guidelines’