Three hundred years ago, intellectuals of the European enlightenment constructed a mythology of technology.

Influenced by a confluence of humanism, colonialism and racism, this mythology ignored local wisdom and indigenous innovation, deeming it primitive.

Today, we have slowly come to realise that the legacy of this mythology is haunting us.

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Designers understand the urgency of reducing humanity’s negative environmental impact, yet perpetuate the same mythology of technology that relies on exploiting nature.

Responding to climate change by building hard infrastructures and favouring high-tech homogenous design, we are ignoring millennia-old knowledge of how to live in symbiosis with nature.

Without implementing soft systems that use biodiversity as a building block, designs remain inherently unsustainable.

Lo-TEK, derived from traditional ecological knowledge, is a cumulative body of multigenerational knowledge, practices and beliefs, countering the idea that indigenous innovation is primitive and exists isolated from technology. It is sophisticated and designed to sustainably work with complex ecosystems.

With four chapters spanning mountains, forests, deserts and wetlands, Julia Watson’s book explores thousands of years of human wisdom and ingenuity from 20 countries including Peru, the Philippines, Tanzania, Kenya, Iran, India and Indonesia. We rediscover an ancient mythology in a contemporary context, radicalising the spirit of human nature.

‘Julia Watson. Lo—TEK​. Design by Radical Indigenism’ is available here

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