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Friday, June 9 • 11:35am - 11:55am
Six Arguments why Critical Making is open, local and connected, social and diverse, reflexive, impactful, joyful and meaningful

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In 2021 five mostly European-based organizations launched the participatory research project “Critical Making” to explore the criticality and responsibility of current maker practices (https://criticalmaking.eu). Recent studies have shown the diversity of practices found in the global maker movement. Highly generalized, while making in the Global North involves a lot of tinkering and playing with the latest digital fabrication technologies, makerspaces in the Global South have a much more entrepreneurial function and are serving small local businesses as incubation spaces. Next to the innovation potential found in maker communities experts have assigned them great education potential. Critical Making builds on these findings and defines three areas of research interest, namely gender, education and open innovation. In a series of co-creation activities members from the global maker movement were invited to reflect on current practices and suggest concrete projects that contribute to elaborate core principles of Critical Making. Through these explorations and practical implementations the following aspects have been defined as describing core principles or values of Critical Making, each exemplified each by a concrete project:

Open: Critical Making promotes open collaboration, including the sharing of skills and knowledge. It boosts creativity in the ecosystem of makers by making processes and results accessible.
The Water Filter kit https://wikifactory.com/+criticalmaking/stem-water-filter-kit developed in Kenya to teach about water filtration and recycling is an engaging, portable, recyclable, modular, scalable and replicable STEM kit.

Local & connected: Critical Making is happening locally, working on the ground and adapted to a particular socio-cultural context. Thereby, critical making implies an engagement with local communities as well as global networks - thinking globally and making locally.
In the “Gosanitize” project https://gogirlsict.org/gosanitize/ in South Sudan teachers are producing hand sanitizers from locally available material with local female brewers. They took on this approach from MboaLab in Ghana, who gave them remote training on the process.

Social & Diverse: Critical Making reflects on the social dimensions of making, the living realities of those persons involved and concerned, as well as the ethical implications of their work. Critical Making thereby addresses societal challenges and needs. That’s why it is so important to strive for diversity and inclusiveness.
The Xixi project, https://wikifactory.com/+criticalmaking/stories/xixi-inspiration provides a tool for women, non-binary and trans persons for intimate safety when they need to use the streets to relieve themselves.

Reflexive: Critical Making re-thinks and re-constructs the dominant mainstream maker culture from a critical stance, reflecting on underlying power structures and their implications.
The manual on how to create inclusive makerspaces https://criticalmaking.eu/creating-an-inclusive-and-welcoming-maker-space/ offers guidance, resources and tips on how a makerspace and its community can become more inclusive, diverse and welcoming to those, who might feel under-represented.

Impactful: Critical Making aspires to really make a difference. It seeks to improve life and build a sustainable future.
The Responsive Open Source modular Housing Prototype project https://wikifactory.com/+criticalmaking/stories/roshop is a housing prototype for complex post-conflict and politically unstable environments. It was created at the Pagirinya South Sudanese Refugee Settlement in Uganda, as a response to urgent community-use housing needs.

Joyful & meaningful: Critical Making is still about the joy of and in making, but adds meaning to it. What is made critically is made with a specific purpose of individual or social kind.
The open source educational wood game Virando Jogo https://wikifactory.com/+criticalmaking/stories/virando-jogo-open-source-educational-games emerged during the pandemic to offer joyful remote education for young children and stimulates their sense of cultural belonging.

The project is offering tools for makers to self-assess and reflect on these principles in their practice. In this contribution we present the status of our work, and spark a discussion around these principles and how they relate to social justice.


Barbara Kieslinger

Centre for Soziale Innovation

Regina Sipos

Global Innovation Gathering, Germany

Friday June 9, 2023 11:35am - 11:55am EDT