Part of the
Design United
TU DelftTU EindhovenUniversity of TwenteWageningen University
Design United


+31(0)6 48 27 55 61


Intercommunal Collaborations

Zeynep Uğur, Butterfly Works

“There is widespread consensus that in partnerships for development, too much power is in the hands of donors and international NGOs, while partners in the South lack agency. Despite the consensus, power imbalances persist.” (Shift the Power, n.d.) 

Imagine a tilted table; regardless of how much you push, it does not level. Can something be stuck underneath?

In the case of development, there are many things intertwined and stuck under that table, and one of the most consequential is the Eurocentric values and assumptions that are dominating the projects.

The domination of these values and assumptions are in every aspect of our modern-day lives. They foster our implicit biases and create predefined "goods" and "bads," eventually influencing our social interactions and life choices.

As we are striving to transform into a sustainable society, we need to question the values that steer our thoughts; acknowledge different values others can hold; and imagine alternative ways our society can function.

Intercommunal Collaborations is designed in collaboration with 15 co-creators across 10 countries; who have been experiencing development sector and it’s inherit values. Taking a systemic approach, the sector has been analysed and the best intervention point was defined to be the execution level of the development process – the moments where the development projects are realized.

The final design is a critical tool taking shape as a digital platform. It encompass a fictional globe through which a set of communities are introduced. The communities are based on the book “Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary” (Kothari et al., 2019) and use storytelling elements to introduce new perspectives on how common practices in the international development sector can be executed differently. The collaborate section invites people to partake in imagining alternative value systems, and other possible uses of the tool.

Finally, the facilitation guide debunks how to use this tool to imagine alternatives together, both in the development sector, and beyond.

Intercommunal Collabotations is a critique on the Eurocentric processes and the colonial mindsets of the International Development sector - and of our society. It has a solid theoretical background that is built upon Arturo Escobar's concept of Pluriverse, which provides a counternarrative to contemporary Northern assumptions of the universal and, in Escobar's words, to “the hegemony of modernity's one-world ontology” ” (Perry, 2021, 4)

The political design tool challenges the domination of Eurocentric values, the modern assumptions, and capitalist ideals. It creates the space to, and invites participants to, challenge this domination by imagining and working from alternatives. It brings out the question "According to whose value system are we working, living, and 'developing'? What else is possible? " 

“The current capitalist models are not working, what other models can we have in the journey of development?”
Anonymous Co-creator