Real imagined communities: National narratives and the globalization of design history

Kjetil Fallan, Grace Lees-Maffei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
91 Downloads (Pure)


The nation state is no longer the only socio-cultural or political-economic unit forming our identities and experiences, if it ever was, although national and regional histories of design have demonstrated cogent frameworks for the discussion of common socio-economic, cultural, and identity issues. In the context of celebrations and moral panic alike about the effect of globalization, recognizing that the much-vaunted global chains of design, manufacturing, and commerce are still composed of national endeavors is critical. This article argues for a reinsertion of the national category into contemporary academic understanding of design—both past and present. It provides a timely examination of the historiographic and methodological value of national frameworks in writing design history. We begin by examining how the dominant national paradigm ceded to the global as an academic, and mainstream, preoccupation, and then reintroduce the national into the global in design history.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-18
Number of pages14
JournalDesign Issues
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


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