Youthful agency, art practices and the right to the city 
Franziska Jenni (University of Basel)
Frederik Unseld (University Basel)
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Start time:
1 July, 2017 at 9:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

How do young artists in African cities articulate and imagine their societies' present and future? How do they claim the right to the city? How do they find ways for self-expression and social recognition? We invite contributions that explore artistic practices in their socio-political context.

Long Abstract

Discourses on arts in African cities tend to depict artists as forerunners of change, creatively imagining new futures of the city and society at large. While we do not deny the possibility of this, we would like to inquire into the sociological foundations of this conviction. If art has the capacity to transform society, then we must be able to trace its impact by carefully situating artistic practices in their socio-political context.

We invite contributions that explore the potential of artistic practices to shape the urban social spaces they address. Papers should show awareness of the relations of force underlying the discursive realm: be it in the form of state violence, intergenerational conflicts, media censorship, or other, milder forms of parochialism.

Focusing on youths allows us to concentrate on the majority of the population in African cities among which feelings about economic and social marginalization are usually most pressing. How do youths artistically push their agenda and articulate their right to the city, how do they find ways for self-expression and social recognition?

If artists do imagine and articulate a future of their societies, which are the images of the social at stake, through which media and genres are they expressed, and how does urban society react to these expressions?

Because of the frequent precariousness of such settings, we are also interested in transitory, unfinished, or sabotaged projects, which have not found its desired public, but may open our eyes for the ordinariness of African cities and their (im)possibilities to change.

Accepted papers: