Abstract

Contemporary design is global. Along with international developments in higher education, the influence of post-colonial theory, and intellectual endeavours like ‘world history’, design historians are now writing Global Design History (to use the title of a 2011 edited collection). While the nation state is no longer the only socio-cultural or political-economic unit forming our identities and experiences—if it ever were—this article examines the value of national frameworks in writing design history and asks whether moves to discard them are premature. Are national histories of design dependent upon outmoded generalisations and stereotypes? Or do they demonstrate cogent frameworks for the discussion of common socio-economic and cultural conditions and shared identities? Globalizing design history involves writing new histories of neglected regions and nations and revisionist histories informed by the findings and methods of new comparative and global histories, of celebrated industrial nations.

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