How to (Counter) Act: Agency and Vulnerability

15/12 2017 11 am — 4 pm

Most alliances between right-wing populism and neoliberal capitalism give rise to hate speech, harassment, toxic masculinities, and unevenly distributed precarity and dispossession. What can be done? How can agency in arts and education take shape today? How can the agency of art and research transcend the cultural world and extend to everyday life? The focus of the symposium is on agency and vulnerability. Taking action has long been celebrated for its emancipatory and empowering politics. Yet, it is equally important to understand better the politics of vulnerability. Feminist, postcolonial, and queer – politics, practices, and theories assist us in better understanding vulnerability and its complex relations to agency, and politics of power.


11 am
Welcome by Elke Krasny and Vanessa Joan Müller

11.30 am – 1 pm
Transcending Other: A multifaceted approach to diversity and inclusion.
Workshop with Melodie Holliday and Julie Wright

As UK Higher Education continues to evolve through digitisation, globalisation, and political landscapes, as does the needs and expectations of our students. This workshop aims to introduce participants to pedagogies of social justice (Hahn Tapper, 2013) through a multitude of activities with the support of theory. The participants will be supported in endeavouring to unpack, rebuild and apply key concepts around inclusion and diversity in arts education. These concepts include “Critical Race Theory” (Harris et al, 2012), “Intersectionality” (Crenshaw, 1991) and “Empathy” (Stephan & Finlay, 1999). Through this workshop the facilitators aim to build on existing knowledge and practices of the cohort, as well as provide a challenging but supportive environment for purposeful and meaningful dialogue.

Melodie Holliday is the editor and curriculum developer at Shades of Noir, a UAL award-winning teacher, PhD student, artist and performer. She is a passionate music lover and punk front woman in the band “Art Trip and the Static Sound’, her work has been played on BBC Radio 6 Music and Radio X. She has also taken part in an interview on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s hour. Melodie is an advocate for social justice and cultural democracy in Arts Education. Through her work at Shades of Noir, she is responsible for the editorial activities of all written content. Additionally, she creates opportunities through diverse activities to develop, embed and share social justice curriculum for the higher education sector resources, which she presents at national and international conferences, additionally. These resources are utilised to deliver workshops for academic staff, as well as support her delivery in teaching on the Post Graduate Certification in Academic Practice Unit Inclusive Teaching & Learning within the Teaching & Learning Exchange at the University of the Arts London.

Julie Wright is an educational content developer at Shades of Noir whose role includes sourcing data and creating space onthe Shades of Noir creative database for diverse creative practitioners of colour. She specialises in conducting thought-provoking interviews for the site and some of its terms of reference zines. Most recently, Julie lead on the Higher Power: spirituality, faith and belief terms of reference zine which will be up on the Shades of Noir site soon. Julie has just completed her MA at Central Saint Martins where she has been spending the past year researching colourism and exploring how fashion can be used to reduce the problem. She has created garments that aim to create an experience that teaches its wearers what the effects of colourism feels like instead of having to have it explained to them. This is just the beginning of an ongoing process that Julie will continue with well after she graduates.

1 – 2 pm

2 – 4 pm
Vulnerability, Discrimination and the Poetry of Resistance
Lecture and Workshop with María do Mar Castro Varela

There are many ways to speak about discrimination; there are many ways to describe a situation of vulnerability and the act of resistance. The talk will, on one hand, offer an overview on the different concepts which try to grap the messiness of discrimination: “interlocking systems of oppression”; “multiple discrimination”; “intersectionality”; “mythical norm”. On the other hand, it will be about resistance. Resistance will be described as a specific form of poetry rooting in the vulnerable subject who after all has agency – however painful the experience of discrimination.

Castro Varela, María do Mar (Prof. Dr.) is professor of Pedagogy and Social Work at the Alice Salomon University in Berlin with focus on Gender and Queer Studies. She holds a double in Psychology and Pedagogy and a Ph.D. in Political Science. Her research interests besides Gender and Queer Studies are Postcolonial Theory, Critical Migration Studies and Critical Education. Publications: Die Dämonisierung der Anderen. Rassismuskritik der Gegenwart (eds. with Paul Mecheril); Contesting the Imperial Agenda. Respelling Hopelessness. Some Thoughts on the Dereliction of the University, in: Decolonizing the University – Special issue Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies (TvG) (with Alisha heinemann).

A collaboration between the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Art and Education Program at the Institute for Education in the Arts and Kunsthalle Wien

Organized by Elke Krasny and Vanessa Joan Müller

Free admission!