This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

(K)notting Strands of Change: Radical Deconstruction Through Afrofuturist-Feminist Design




Shealey, Alaundra

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Consumer and Design Sciences


Black women have combatted hegemonic forces that forced them into chattel slavery and other forms oppression by using needle, thread, patterns, and design for centuries (Tobin & Dobard, 1999). Working through needle, thread, and textile has allowed Black women to gain a sense of community and a sense of self to cope with and trouble daily discriminations encountered in everyday life (Leon, 2006). This act of resistance has privileged the materials and textiles that marginalized Black women fiber/textile artists use as the fiber/textile artists select and interact with materials they can intentionally encode with messages for resistance and deliverance. However, Black women still face erasure and omission of their sociopolitical efforts in crafting their liberation through design (Hewett, 2021). While these erasures exist, Black women scholars and designers show their valiant efforts to make safe spaces and epistemologies to acknowledge and legitimize their voices in the midst of Eurocentric traditions in systems of knowledges. In this study, I investigate ways of negotiating everyday life and giving agency to materials and design through my Afrofuturist-feminist culturalism. I use Cynthia B. Dillard’s methodology of surrender and Venus Evans-Winters’ mosaic approach to guide this critical autoethnography of closely reading my written and creative scholarship in apparel design. Paradigms that center Black women’s voices are interlaced with oppositional knowledges that validate Black women’s experiences and offer visibility to them while challenging hegemonic practices of denying Black women safety and legitimacy in disciplines and public spaces (Collins, 2000; Guy-Sheftall, 1995; Toliver, 2022). I use (k)notting (AmberBeckyCreative, 2022; Guyotte et al., 2022) as an analysis to thematize my findings into meta- and sub-themes of Afrofuturist and Black feminist concepts, braiding narratives of liberation across time, symbology in design, hybridity and liminality as it pertains to Black women’s life in design. I argue that Black women construct liberations in their own Black woman-led epistemologies of pasts, presents, and futures to define themselves and their existence, resisting anti-Black discursive practices in design and research.