Afield is a design research practice bringing comparative interdisciplinary perspective to contemporary social issues. The practice is critically informed by the alignment of design and social science methodologies that advance research-creation. Projects range from situated investigations of early childhood development infrastructure in South Africa to a design ethnography critically considering economies of migration, postcolonialism, and what we call 'the practice of practice' in Montréal.
Kai Wood Mah and Patrick Lynn Rivers co-direct Afield. Mah is a design historian, licensed architect with l'Ordre des architectes du Québec (OAQ), and professor. Mah's architectural practice is interdisciplinary and grounded in site-specific investigations employing archives, fieldwork, social science methodologies, and research-creation. His work includes designing and building community centres and institutional spaces with Cree and Inuit communities in Northern Québec. Writings by Mah have appeared in Visual Studies, Children, Youth and Environments, Public, and Interventions among other peer-reviewed journals as well
as edited volumes like Depicting Canada's Children. Mah and Rivers are co-authors of Situated Architectural Politics forthcoming (late 2021) published by Dalhousie Architectural Press. The book examines five global architectural practices using progressive participatory methods.
Trained in political theory and comparative politics, Rivers is now an interdisciplinary social scientist and professor. Rivers's hybrid and increasingly collaborative work is characterised by situated and comparative thinking that makes use of tools from academic and practice-based disciplines. This trajectory is reflected in the peer-reviewed book Governing Hate and Race and peer-reviewed articles appearing in diverse academic outlets like the South African Law Journal, Journal of Film and Video, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Australasian Journal of American Studies, Space and Culture, and the Journal of Curriculum Studies. Writings by Rivers have run as analysis pieces in newspapers like the The Star (Toronto), The Star (Johannesburg), Winnipeg Free Press, and New City (Chicago), and as long-form journalism in the progressive magazine Briarpatch.