Designing quantum bodies: A new calculus of responsibility

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Critical Design has embraced Karen Barad’s theory of agential realism for rethinking design as a discipline, an artifact, and a profession. This article meditates on an exploratory question: what if we consider Barad to be in some way ‘doing design’? The article draws attention to the fact that Barad’s 2007 book, Meeting the Universe Halfway, does not begin with physics or feminism, but rather, with a close reading of a play. I suggest that Barad situates literature and fiction as central features in her analysis of historical experiments in physics, that she doesn’t treat these experiments as historical events or even conceptual questions, but entangles them with a type of ‘experimental’ physics. Barad confronts the unsatisfactory ethical conclusions in the play, and thereby isolates a pressing design problem: how to loosen the hold of individualism on feminist ethics? This article proposes a provocation: that Barad engages in a project to ‘design away’ the classical body that stands in the way of more ethical quantum futures. The article highlights the need for speculative design methods because they transcend disciplinary divisions and help to overcome design problems as enduring as individualism. Engaging with fictional worlds that touch upon our contemporary technoscientific present, Barad’s science fictional story, I argue, asks us to ponder our relations, imagine new ones, and open pathways to more ethical and equitable futures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-326
Number of pages21
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020


  • Artefactual
  • Defuturing
  • Karen Barad
  • Quantum entanglement
  • Speculative design
  • Transdisciplinarity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Law


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