Global Arts and Cultures

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Playing Counter-Colonialism

Talks & Workshop

Join us for this day-long event in collaboration with MIT Game Lab as we unpack the mechanics of colonialism through board games!


Mikael is a Research Scientist at the MIT Game Lab who studies the border between game design and game culture. His presentation will dive deep into the history of board games to unearth some unpleasant findings about how these cultural artifacts have been used as propaganda for war and colonization throughout history. But before we run out of air, we will return to the present where Mikael will aspire to instill some hope that the future can look different.

Nashra Balagamwala is an Experiential Designer working at the intersection of art and politics. Originally from Pakistan, her work involves the critical exploration of taboo subjects, frequently transforming these ideas into games, designs, and experiences. She uses art and design as a medium for social change, focusing on women’s empowerment, abuse prevention, and bridging political divides through a playful and satirical lens. She has been recognized as a Forbes 30 Under 30, Fortune’s “World’s Most Powerful Women” and NBC’s “A-Z” list of individuals redefining Asian-American stereotypes. Her work has been published globally by the BBC, MIT Press, The Guardian, and several other notable media. Balagamwala studied at Harvard University and the Rhode Island School of Design.

Shey ‘Rí Acu’ Rivera Ríos (they/them) is an interdisciplinary artist who uses storytelling across mediums to create stories of liberation and magic. Rivera has 12 years of leadership experience in the arts sector intersecting with community development and urban planning. Rivera is the founder of Studio Loba LLC, a performance lab and social practice studio that creates art for social change. Rivera was born and raised in Borikén/Puerto Rico and lives in Providence, RI – land of Narragansett and Wampanoag peoples. Their key projects include Mi Gente Public Art, transmedia projects FANTASY ISLAND and MoralDocs, Luna Loba performance series, and the theatrical productions Fire Flowers and a Time Machine (2020) and AntigonX (2022). Rivera is currently a grad student in the GAC program ('24).

In this workshop led by Mikael Jakobsson & Rik Eberhardt from MIT Game Lab, you’ll work in small groups to prototype your very own counter-colonial board games!

This event is organized by GAC in collaboration with MIT Game Lab. It is made possible by the generous support of RISD’s Department of Illustration, Center for Complexity, RISD Research, RISD ISE (Office of Intercultural Student Engagement), and finally, our sibling program NCSS (Nature-Culture-Sustainability Studies).

Read the RISD News story about this event.