Bridging the gap between design and engineering cultures

A few years ago I conducted a workshop on ethnographic mapping methods with a Pueblo community in the Southwest. While I wasn’t familiar with Pueblo cultures, I had heard they were rigorously private. For example, I was asked not to discuss the specific details of the Pueblo’s history or personal stories—normally a key topic in the workshop.

Despite these precautions, I was surprised when the group seemed unimpressed by the exercises in the workshop. They were often hesitant to participate, especially in the exercises that focused on developing skills for mapping personal stories, historical accounts, and cultural data. I was told, instead, that they were not prepared to talk about these things in the presence of outsiders—meaning myself and some other attendees from a nearby Pueblo. Instead, they asked for handouts.

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