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Unseen Matters:
Emerging Counter-Institutional Pedagogies
Lisa C. Henry, Tonia Sing Chi, Shawhin Roudbari, Bz Zhang
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Dark Matter University (DMU) took shape in the summer of 2020, motivated by the desire to address institutional structures of power and privilege that hold broken pedagogies in place. This work is primarily undertaken through a series of ongoing experiments by our collective. In this reflection, we turn our gaze on the just-crystallizing pedagogies of DMU, underscoring anti-racist work as a live, introspective process by all involved. As a nascent counter-institution, but an institution nevertheless, we ask ourselves, in what ways are we at risk of reproducing the structures of oppression that we seek to address? Inspired by conversations that emerged in our collaborative teaching, we scrutinize DMU’s Foundations of Design Justice (FoDJ) course to examine ways in which our pedagogies intersect with our individual and institutional identities. We do so in order to confront those entrenched logics of oppression that do harm to everyone—particularly those who are fractured by the identity categories that broken pedagogies enforce.

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