Life span mapping: Human-centered design practices in the Arctic

Theme 4. Education
Session Name 4.14 Arctic design: Thinking our way out of the global change
Datetime Sep 07, 2018 09:40 AM - 09:50 AM (UTC +3)
Presentation Type Oral
Author(s) Melanie Sarantou (University of Lapland, Finland), Daria Akimenko (University of Lapland, Finland)
Abstract text

Human-centered approaches that employ ethnography and participatory design can guide participants to reflect on their lives, with the aim to stimulate alternative strategies for their futures (Friedland and Yamauchi, 2011). This paper disseminates an art-based process that was used in a workshop in Murmansk, Russia, to facilitate lifespan mapping, a tool deriving from lifespan psychology and based on a model that discusses triggers, modes, contexts, functions, and outcomes (Webster et al. 2010). This process for reflection on life changes involves the painting of Life Story Mandalas that represent a participant’s life or a section thereof (Miettinen et al. 2016). Storytelling helps to process the symbolisms that were portrayed in these artefacts, while collective empathy emerges through verbalising the stories. The methodology used in the case study consists of art-based approaches, storytelling, documentation and narrative analysis. Art-based methods address politics of gender and identity, power and justice and other themes often overlooked by other approaches. The advantage of art-based methods lies in their focus on ‘visualisation’ that is democratic and inclusive, while common mapping techniques strengthen their communal focus (Mohan and Stokke 2000). Through reflexivity that comes about with storytelling, participants piece together their experiences into life stories that make sense to them, and through critical reflection on the world, art becomes an interruptive practice (Savin-Baden and Major 2013; Baden and Wimpenny 2014). The purpose of lifespan mapping is to overcome changes in lifecycles and cope with lived experiences and change, through making and reflection, in often hostile remote Arctic environments.

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