Revaluation of Wichi traditions

This project focuses on the material and immaterial analysis of the production of handicrafts by the Wichis of Northern Argentina since the beginning of the 20th century.


  • Lead school Bern Academy of the Arts
  • Institute Institute of Design Research
  • Research unit Social Design
  • Funding organisation SNSF
  • Duration (planned) 01.09.2021 - 31.01.2025
  • Project management Catalina Lucia Agudin
  • Head of project Catalina Lucia Agudin
  • Partner Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF
  • Keywords Social Design, Wichi Ethnography, Participatory Design Project, Argentinian Ethnicity, Decolonialist Practices, Wichi Handicraft, Design Research


Agudin got to know the Wichi community within a project of an NGO in 2008, when she was studying product design at the University of Buenos Aires. Since then, the researcher was directly and indirectly connected to the topics around the handicraft production of the aboriginal group.

Course of action

To begin, the combination of ethnographical and design methods, such as participant observation, biographical interviews, video documentation, and cultural probes, will be the base of the data collection. Afterwards, a participatory project with Wichi artisans and design students of the University of Buenos Aires will take place in the field. The goal of the workshops for intervening their material culture with designers will be defined with the community in advanced.


The PhD project will be available as a monograph. Furthermore, the results of the study will be published in professional journals (such as Design and Culture, Design Studies, Design Issues, Tsantsa,, and Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, for example) and will be presented at specialist conferences in the areas of Design Research and Social Anthropology. From the participatory project with Wichi artisans and design students of the University of Buenos Aires it is expected to have material outcomes, that, after discussion with the participants, may be displayed in exhibitions.

Looking ahead

I argue this participatory project will contribute to the valorisation of the Wichi handicraft production, and to the reflexion about the role ethnicity plays in Argentina. Furthermore, it intends to contribute to the decolonialist perspective and practice.

This project contributes to the following SDGs

  • 4: Quality education
  • 10: Reduced inequalities