Although the significant contributions of European designers who fled Nazi Europe for North and Latin America have been long recognized by historians, the broader situation of immigrant professionals – from across the globe – in twentieth-century design history remains an area ripe for scholarly examination. This session seeks to complicate and enrich our understanding of the roles of immigrant commercial, industrial, and decorative designers in the Americas. As newcomers either by choice or by force, immigrant professionals faced singular challenges as they sought to adapt to their adopted lands. To what degrees did the economic, ethnic, and professional difficulties they encountered shape the products of American design, design practice, and design culture? To these ends, papers might examine not only immigrants' professional strategies and successes but also their challenges and failures. How did social, economic, and personal hardships, such as racism, discrimination, and cultural politics affect their professional labors? Did the ideas and methodologies that they brought with them sometimes fail to translate in their new professional, cultural, and aesthetic spheres, and if so, what can these reveal about the history of twentieth-century American design? Alternatively, how have some immigrant designers or immigrant groups proposed concepts that fundamentally challenged and altered the status quo? From a historiographic perspective, how have dominant histories of design hindered a more nuanced history of the American immigrant experience? Papers that examine lesser-known practitioners are particularly welcome, as are papers that interrogate the works of canonical designers from a perspective that highlights their status as immigrants.
Please submit a 300-500 word abstract to email@example.com by the deadline of August 6th.