Peter West is a lecturer in RMIT's School of Design. Peter's research and teaching practice explores the ways in which Western design is practiced lawfully, in response to Indigenous sovereignty.
Peter West is a non-Indigenous cis-gendered white man and a visitor on unceded Indigenous lands. In design practice, research and teaching West, is situated by Indigenous sovereignty. This leads West into designing practices which reflexively challenges the assumptions and dominance of Western design itself.
Peter's industry background in creative communication strategy, branding and art direction is challenged and matured through the application of design, queer theory and critical race theory. This sees West's teaching and research work exploring the nexus of Diversity, Inclusion and Reconciliation as a skills base directed towards non-Indigenous people, which is then embedded in design thinking and potentially applied in organisational conduct and brand values.
West's research focuses on the ways in which design is fundamentally challenged by and obliged to be in relation to Indigenous sovereignties. As West's teaching and research work is conducted on Kulin country this is practiced in response to the sovereign practice of Womin Djeka and the laws of Bundjil. This is to design lawfully on country.
As co-lead of Reconciliation in the School of Design Peter is involved in the strategic planning of reconciliation across the school. This involves bringing both teaching and research practices (processes) into an active (named/demonstrated) relationship to Indigenous sovereignties.
Peter is also involved in a number of research projects with Indigenous Nations (communities) as part of the ARC Linkage project; Talking Country which continues to inform his research. Peter has also led a Work Integrated Learning Honours Studio program that supported design students into practical with Industry clients.
Peter's research explores how the (non-Indigenous) individual, the design practitioner and the design discipline can embed a practice of responding to Indigenous sovereignty and therefore be in a sovereign relationship. Indigenous sovereignty poses particular challenges to the Western design discipline. This leads West into an examination of the consumptive, transactional nature of Western Eurocentric design, through Critical Race, Whiteness and Indigeneity theory and Queer theory. These theoretical frameworks guide West into exploration of the boundedness of the Western knowledge systems.
This research is also directed toward the development of design scaffolds which support non-Indigenous people into the necessary steps of critical self-reflection and applied activity required to demonstrate and meet their obligation into the sovereign relationship.
Peter has published in a number of Design journals as both a co-author and solo author. These are listed in the publication section.
Peter West's industry experience includes working as both an art director, copywriter and communications strategist at multinational advertising agencies; servicing both retail and social issue communication objectives.
Currently West is engaged in behavioural (and systems) change with external organisations seeking to embed reconciliation as a priority for all staff.
- Akama, Y.,Evans, D.,Keen, S.,McMillan, F.,McMillan, M.,West, P. (2017). Designing digital and creative scaffolds to strengthen Indigenous nations: being Wiradjuri by practicing sovereignty In: Digital Creativity, 28, 58 - 72
- Akama, Y.,Keen, S.,West, P. (2016). Speculative design and heterogeneity in indigenous nation building In: Proceedings of the 2016 ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS 2016), Brisbane, Australia, 4-8 June 2016
- West, P.,Akama, Y.,McMillan, M. (2016). "I was worried about insulting Indigenous communities with my designs": shifting from fear to recognition to create a meeting place of sovereigns In: Proceedings of the 2016 Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools Annual Conference, Brisbane, Australia, 29-30 September 2016
- Talking Country: Sharing Indigenous stories of place through mobile media. Funded by: ARC Linkage Project Grants 2018 from (2020 to 2024)
- Designing for Indigenous cultural sustainability. Funded by: Australia Council University Art and Design Schools Grant 2016 from (2016 to 2017)