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Call for Special Issue "Collective artistic practices and their socio-political potentials"

Guest Editors: Alix Didier Sarrouy (CICS.NOVA, Portugal), Alina Cibea & Verónica Talellis, Research Group on Music and Inclusion, Argentina)

Deadline: 31 August 2019

Accepted languages: Portuguese, English, Spanish and French.

Susan Wright (2010) defines “culture” as an active, dynamic and politicized process of contestation over the symbolic dimensions and the key concepts in a society. This definition enables the “visibilisation” of power relationships that are at work in explicit or implicit ways in any social interaction. It also opens the possibility to understand that artistic practices are one of the constitutive elements of culture in a society, but not the only one, and that they are intrinsically related to more complex social and political dynamics. Taking this as a starting point, fundamental questions arise about the meaning of art, the relationship between art and culture, the relationship between art and artist, the role of art in a society, among others.

Over the last decades these issues have been particularly reflected in the debates that have been arising around the multiplication of projects which promote the use of art as a tool for education and socio-cultural emancipation. This perspective has increasingly become a demand and requirement for a large number of artistic projects oriented towards different social sectors (e.g. young people, the elderly, people with disabilities etc.), which in turn lead to inquiries regarding the role played by the "instrumentalisation" of art (Barbieri, Partal & Merino 2011; Belfiore 2002, 2006) in cultural policies in a broader sense (García Canclini 1987; Yudice 2002; Grimson 2011, 2014). This conjuncture also served as a trigger to deepen the debates surrounding the core issues mentioned above, which materialise in complex discussions regarding the objectives, the actions, the processes and the results of artistic practices.

In this call we look for articles that problematise and analyse the tensions and disputes that occur around these matters. To set a frame for this thematic issue, and to serve as a link between the broad variety of possible article proposals, we suggest the notion of “collective”. Primarily we are looking for accounts of artistic practices with a participatory dimension, in which the “collective” is a key element. On the one hand this may be understood in the sense of a group of persons found in a specific physical space (i.e. members of a school or of a factory; a performance group or an artistic cluster sharing an atelier; a group of neighbours) and/or joined by a common interest. On the other hand, it may refer to the “collective action” (Becker 1974; Small 1977) of all actors directly or indirectly involved in a creative process.

We privilege results gathered from ethnographic research approaches, while also being open to the “extended case” methodology (Gluckman 1940). We are particularly interested in studies that develop complex analyses by integrating a broad number and variety of actors and structures that have an influence over the artistic processes and their results. We also welcome papers from longitudinal research, about interconnected spaces in social ecosystems (e.g. school-neighbourhood-city; playground-house-church). In addition to articles with an academic format, we also welcome contributions that may employ different forms of descriptive or analytical expressions.

The editors welcome contributions (in English, Spanish, French or Portuguese) from any field of social sciences, including interdisciplinary and/or intersectional areas. Suggestions for (non-exclusive) topics include:

  • Artistic practices from which new ways of understanding the “collective” can be thought.

  • Experiences which may incite us to reflect upon alternative proposals for social interactions, social construction and political participation.

  • Artistic practices involving migrants and refugees.

  • The relation between “art as a result”, “art as a process”, and “art as a tool”.

  • The usage of “creativity” as an operating concept (Hallam & Ingold 2007), particularly instances which can be analysed in terms of “common creativity” (Willis 1990) and “vernacular creativity” (Burgess 2006).

  • The role and symbolic power of objects (Hennion 2015; Latour & Woolgar 1986) in interactions involved in collective artistic actions (e.g. instruments when teaching music; cameras when filming or photographing).

  • Tensions, contrasts, contradictions and paradoxes in collective social actions when using art as a tool in sociocultural work.

  • Perceptions of the actors themselves about their experiences of participation in different collective artistic practices, including from a gender perspective (Segato 2003).

  • The disruptive potential of collective artistic practices in their local contexts and the ways in which this aspect manifests itself.

  • The ways in which collective artistic practices impact on the self-perceptions of the actors: on the self and collective consciousness; social rights and duties, difficulties and pleasures, aesthetic sensibility and poesis.

  • Art practices applied as forms of resisting and persisting in the face of increased precarisation of life and weakening of social links, especially by creating networks of support.

This issue welcomes contributions that may represent a diversity of:

  • Countries, regions and continents in which originate the analysed experiences;

  • Epistemologies, welcoming and aiming to promote contributions from the "global south" or non-hegemonic perspectives on knowledge production – for instance see the theoretical underpinnings of decolonial thought (Mignolo 2002, 2003; Quijano 2007); indigenous epistemologies and reverse-anthropology (Kirsch 2006; Francia& Tola 2018); or the theoretical arguments for "provincialising" occidental thought (Chakrabarty 2008).

  • Artistic practices, including but not limited to music, dance, drawing, circus, theatre, poetry slams, collective writing, photography, murals, street performances, interventions in public spaces;

  • Means to survey, analyse and transmit content: articles in academic format, essays, audio or visual essays, ethno-arts, field diaries, visual anthropology records, drawings, maps.

Submissions should be in accordance with the Author Guidelines of the journal and its respective Section Policies. For further information, please contact Alix Sarrouy (alixsarrouy@fcsh.unl.pt).

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