How and why do nation-states become interested in the arts, in its promotion, and regulation? How is art used by dissident groups to create or contest political identities or movements? How does this political use or promotion of art intersect with market dynamics? How do categories in art appear? What role do governments, markets and artists play in producing these categories? To whom does this matter? How do governments or political groups mediate the relationship between specific artists and their audiences?

By asking questions concerning constraints and freedom, this reading group contemplates different ways in which power translates and transforms through art practice. Recognising that the art world is an arena of power rather than simply as a tool for communication or representation, we will what art practice might tell us about social and political institutions and relations, and how it intersects with the predicaments and privileges of those with whom it engages.

We invite interested doctoral and post-doctoral researchers, academics, artists, and authors to be a part of this reading group. By reading, listening, examining, and talking together, we hope for an equally rewarding and meaningful outcome in exploring the deeply fraught yet dynamic alliance of art and politics.

Reading group programme October – December 2023
All sessions will be held between 13:00 and 14:30 UK time. Zoom links and texts will be sent to the mailing list in advance of each seminar. To sign up for the mailing list, please see the instructions on the ‘Information’ tab.

The texts given below should be read in advance of the meeting.

9 October (Joanna Page)
Elizabeth Harney and Ruth B. Phillips, ‘Introduction: Inside Modernity: Indigeneity, Coloniality, Modernisms.’ In Harney and Phillips (eds), Mapping Modernisms: Art, Indigeneity, Colonialism (Durham, Duke University Press, 2018), (pp. 1-29. doi:10.1215/9780822372615)

13 November (Malvika Maheshwari)
Peter Weibel. ‘Art and Democracy.’ In Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel (eds), Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy (Ann Arbor: MIT Press, 2005), pp. 1008-1037

11 December (Ranjini Nair)
Kajri Jain, “Emergence.” In Gods in the Time of Democracy (Durham: Duke University Press, 2021), pp. 1-27. (

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