Wendy Gunn: on Research as a Future Making Practice






Wendy is a researcher in the field of design anthropology whose written work, research and design practices have contributed to the foundation of what we now perceive as design anthropology. She holds an MA and a PhD in Social Anthropology both at the University of Manchester. She taught at architecture department at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland. From 2005-2017 she was Associate Professor of design anthropology at University of Southern Denmark. Subsequently, she has held teaching and research positions in Australia, Belgium, USA and China. As a researcher, Wendy has cross-disciplinary expertise in design, architecture and anthropology and significant experience of conducting collaborative research as part of multidisciplinary design teams involving both public and private sectors. Central to her research is a close connection between theory and practice, research and teaching. She has developed research insights into how collaborative processes work as well as how anthropology can play an important role in design, whether in product, architectural and engineering design. Wendy’s publications explore such processes through ethnographic documentation of design experimentation and analysis of emergent properties, involving learning, imagination and cooperation.

In today’s episode we talk to Wendy about her experience of shaping design anthropology and the ways collaborative research practices in this emerging field have evolved. How does she reconcile the designer, architect and anthropologist that dwell within her? In what ways has the cross-disciplinary collaboration given Wendy strength to navigate different kinds of design processes and practices? We inquire about the challenges and difficulties that this navigation sometimes implies. We reflect on research as a future making practice and on ways of being a researcher within that space. We close with stimulating questions and a research case: how do you conduct fieldwork without actually being there?  How can you as a researcher make research practices more sustainable? And how do you engage astronauts in carrying out anthropological research?

Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast here:


Mentioned in podcast:

Tim Ingold, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Ingold
Sara Green, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Green_(anthropologist)
Sarah Pink, https://research.monash.edu/en/persons/sarah-pink
Karen Barad, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Barad
Kathleen Stewart, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1068/d9109
Jacob Buur, https://portal.findresearcher.sdu.dk/en/persons/buur
Christian Clausen, https://vbn.aau.dk/en/persons/100768


Journal Articles x5

Gunn, W. 2019. Collaborative Research Inquiry: A Few Entanglements, Which Take a Long Time to Work Out.” Correspondences, Cultural Anthropology. Member Voices, Fieldsights, February 4, https://culanth.org/fieldsights/collaborative-research-inquiry-a-few-entanglements-which-take-a-long-time-to-work-out

Ventura, J. and Gunn, W. 2017. Now you see me, now you don’t: Medical design anthropology, improvisational practices and future imaginings. Anthropology in Action: Journal for Applied Anthropology in Policy and Practice, 24 (3), pp. 45-55.

Clausen, C and Gunn, W. 2015. From the social shaping of technology to the staging of temporary spaces of participatory innovation- A case of participatory innovation. 2011). In Williams, R, Liff, S. and Winskel, M (eds), The Politics of Innovation for Environmental Sustainability: Celebrating the Contribution of Stewart Russell (1955–2011): Second Part, Science & Technology Studies, 28 (1), pp.73-94.

Gunn, W and Løgstrup, L. B. 2014. Participatory observation, anthropology methodology and design anthropology research inquiry. In Arts and Humanities in Higher Education 13 (4) pp. 428-442. ISI quoted journal article. ISI quoted journal article.

Gunn, W. 2008. Learning to ask naive questions with IT Product Design Students. Special issue on theory in the scholarship of teaching and learning. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 7 (3), pp. 323-336. ISI quoted journal article.

Gunn, W. 2020.Design Anthropology in Europe.” In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology. Oxford University Press, 2018 doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190854584.013.199.


Academic books – editor
Gunn, W and Donovan, J. Eds. 2016 (2012). Design and Anthropology. Anthropological Studies of Creativity and Perception, vol. 5. London: Routledge.
Gunn, W, Otto, T and Smith, R.C. Eds. 2013. Design Anthropology: Theory and Practice. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
Gunn, W. Ed. 2009. Fieldnotes and Sketchbooks: Challenging the boundaries between Descriptions and Processes of Describing. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

Book chapters

Gunn, W. 2018. Collaborative Forms. In Bunn, S (ed), Anthropology and Beauty: From Aesthetics to Creativity. London: Routledge.
Gunn, W and Donovan, J. 2016 (2012). Design Anthropology: An Introduction. In W Gunn and J Donovan (eds), Design and Anthropology. London: Routledge, pp. 1-16. Anthropological Studies of Creativity and Perception, Vol. 5.
Donovan, J and Gunn, W. 2016 (2012). Moving from objects to possibilities. In W Gunn and J Donovan (eds), Design and Anthropology. London: Routledge, pp. 121-134. Anthropological Studies of Creativity and Perception, vol. 5.
Gunn, W and Clausen, C. 2013.  Conceptions of innovation and practice: designing indoor climate. In Gunn, W. Otto, T and Smith, R.C (eds), Design Anthropology: Theory and Practice. London: Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 159-179.
Gunn, W. 2009. Making ‘Fieldnotes and Sketchbooks’: An introduction. In W. Gunn. Fieldnotes and Sketchbooks: Challenging the boundaries between Descriptions and Processes of Describing. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, pp.1-36.
Gunn, W. 2006. Learning within the workplaces of artists, anthropologists and architects: Making stories for drawings and writings. In Grasseni, C (ed), Skilled Vision: Between Apprenticeship and Standards. Berghahn Books: Oxford, pp. 106-125.
Renwick, G. and Gunn, W. 1998. Whaur Extremes Meet-The Story of a Line. In R. Kronenburg. Transportable Environments: Theory, Context, Design and Technology. E & FN SPON (An imprint of Routledge): London, pp. 146-155.
Articles/ chapters in professionally orientated books x1
Gunn, W. 2006. Drawing with Water 16th December 2005-12th February 2006. In Elizabeth Ogilvie: Bodies of Water, 16th December 2005-12th February 2006. Dundee: Dundee Contemporary Arts, pp.22-38.
Other articles/ chapters in professionally orientated books x1
Gunn, W. and Clausen, C. 2012. What does this mean for industry? In J. Buur (ed). Making Indoor Climate: Enabling people’s comfort practices. Sønderborg: University of Southern Denmark, pp.31-33.

Commissioned essays

Gunn, W. 2020. ‘Making Places’. Snøhetta. RSA Metzstein Architecture Discourse 2020, Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture, Edinburgh:  Royal Scottish Academy.

Conference papers and abstracts

Article in conference proceedings

Løgstrup, L.B., Nelson-Burk, M. Mosleh, W.S. and W. Gunn. 2013. ‘Designing anthropological reflection within an energy company’. Paper. In Proceedings of Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference. Wiley: USA, pp. 116-128.

Gunn, W 2006. Gesture, speech, drawing and writing: CAD and the architectural design process: Architects in the 21st Century: Agents of Change? In Rivad, K (ed), Proceedings of the Nordic Association of Architectural Research Annual Symposium, pp.168-175.

Review article 

Gunn, W. 2019. Review of Drawn to See: Drawing as an Ethnographic Method by Andrew Causey. American Anthropologist, 121(2): 528-529.
Gunn, W. 2016. Review of Swedish Design by Keith Murphy. HNet. Humanities & Social Sciences Online.
Available online@ https://networks.h-net.org/node/21311/reviews/142603/gunn-murphy-swedish-design-ethnography
Gunn, W. 2010. Review of ‘Of Orderlies and Men: Hospital Porters Achieving Wellness at Work’ by Nigel Rapport. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 16 (2), pp. 437-438. ISI quoted journal article.

Forthcoming publications:

Clausen, C and W. Gunn.  2020. ‘Staging Participatory Innovation as Transition Design’ In C.Clausen, D.Vinck, S.Pedersen, J.Dorland (eds.) Staging Collaborative Design and Innovation: An Action-Oriented Participatory Approach. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, in press.

Social media

Monash University: https://research.monash.edu/en/persons/wendy-gunn
Academia.edu: https://monash.academia.edu/WendyGunn
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/wendy-gunn-b045457a/?originalSubdomain=au
Researchgate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Wendy_Gunn

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