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CFP: Art and Social Engagement: Aesthetic Articulations in African Urban Spaces, Lisbon 26-28 June 2013


African Dynamics in a Multipolar World
Fifth European Conference on African Studies (ECAS 2013), 26-28 June 2013, Lisbon

Panel no. 066:
Art and Social Engagement: Aesthetic articulations in African urban spaces

African urban spaces and cities are both centres for artistic practice and hotspots of social articulations from enriching encounter to violent conflict. On the one hand, they offer artists opportunities to study, establish networks, and interact with social, political, economic and aesthetic aspects of urban life. On the other hand, they offer the stage where artists negotiate these very topics, bringing attention to the materiality, sociality and politics of urban space. However, the artists’ agency in the urban public and their modes of social as well as aesthetic interaction, vary to a great degree. They may search for social encounters through performances in public spaces; they may comment on urban planning through independent or commissioned design interventions, or they may pull the city into their studio or workshop by processing the materials found in the streets.

This panel asks: How do artists in African cities situate themselves in the public? How do their art practices relate to particular urban situations and topics? What are the dimensions of social engagement through creative practice, and how do they relate to the urban space as a social and public sphere? What audiences do creative practitioners address, and how do audiences actually emerge? What does artistic practice contribute to an understanding of “the public” in the diverse political and cultural urban settings?

The panel welcomes papers from a broad variety of disciplines including, but not limited to, art history, visual studies, anthropology, urban studies, performance studies, architecture, or design studies. Contributions by practicing artists are equally welcome.

Panel Convenors:
Prof. Dr. Till Förster, University of Basel
Dr. des. Fiona Siegenthaler, University of Basel

Deadline: 16 January 2013
Please submit directly via the online system of ECAS:

For questions concerning the panel, please contact:
Fiona Siegenthaler,<>
For questions concerning the conference, see:

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