“Co-designing newcomers archives: discussing ethical challenges when establishing collaboration with vulnerable user groups” paper presented at Cumulus 2016

Elisabet M. Nilsson and Jody Barton presented the paper:
“Co-designing newcomers archives: discussing ethical challenges when establishing collaboration with vulnerable user groups” at the conference Cumulus Hong Kong 2016 Open Design for E-very-thing– exploring new design purposes.

ABSTRACT – Living Archives is a research project exploring the roles of archives in a digitized society. Together, with the Malmö City Archives we initiated a project aiming at prototyping co-archiving practices for young newcomers, to contribute to a newcomers archive. The project emerged as a reaction to the situation in 2015, where almost 163 000 people sought asylum in Sweden. In response to this situation the Malmö City Archives is organising activities to welcome and help integrate newcomers. This paper however, doesn’t focus on the design proposals prototyped as part of the project, but on ethical challenges when collaborating with vulnerable user groups. Before starting the research process we attended a seminar to discuss our ethical stand. We also revisited the ethical standards in research, as well as papers on ethical considerations in design research. Nevertheless, in encountering the youngsters we realised that we were not adequately prepared. To think about ethical standpoints in theory is one thing, but what happens in situ is something else. In this paper we highlight our personal experiences in our first meetings with the user group. We discuss the complexities of establishing collaborations with vulnerable groups, to avoid a naïve view of what such projects, and collaborations require in terms of time and resources. Given the current refugee situation and the potentials of design actions to tackle major societal problems, it is likely that many design researchers will be engaging with these issues, thus these discussions are required.

For more information, contact: Elisabet M. Nilsson, elisabet.nilsson@mah.se.

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