Design anthropology is emerging as an academic field of study and practice between anthropology and design. While its potential lies in the intersection between the two fields, the challenges of how to intervene as anthropological researchers in this field are still highly unexplored. In Otto and Smith 2013, we argue for design anthropology as a distinct way of knowing that incorporates both analysing and doing in the process of constructing knowledge. This approach involves defining and inventing the ethnographic field or design space, and even to an extent the ethnographic subject(s), as well as acting situationally to produce various cultural agendas through the research and design process. In this paper we explore some central epistemological questions concerning the creation and design of this kind of knowledge; knowledge which is created in and through action, rather than as a result of observation and reflection. We focus on emergence and intervention as central concepts for design anthropology, and argue that these concepts are complementary in a dialectical movement of exploration and knowlegde production.
Design anthropology, intervention, methodology, anthropological theory