CFP PANEL NGM 2015: Politicizing Art and Creative Practices? A Provocation for Geographers

Call for Participants

Politicizing Art and Creative Practices? A Provocation for Geographers

Geographical Imagination: Interpretations of Nature, Art and Politics
6th Nordic Geographers’ Meeting (NGM)
Tallinn & Tartu, Estonia
15-19 June 2015
Conference website:

Dr Martin Zebracki (University of Leeds)
Dr Harriet Hawkins (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Important claims have been made for geographical engagements with art and creative practices more broadly, as offering opportunities for researching and living differently. But yet, recent critics of geography’s engagement with creative practices – whether as objects of empirical study or as methods of practice-based research – have often claimed a lack of political potency or critical grit on the part of these practices and their geographical development and analysis.

We find it intriguing that such critiques of a-politicality could be leveled at geographical studies of art, especially given the place of politics in studies of landscape art and the radical possibilities of Situationist practices, both of which have formed key foci for geographical studies of art. Further, given ongoing concerns with public art and participatory arts, and the possibilities of art with respect to questions of social justice and inclusiveness, as well as emerging scholarship on art and geopolitics, there is a gathering pace of geographical research on art that understands politics in myriad ways.

In the context of an art world that is perhaps more concerned than ever to situate and even justify its practices in the context of political theories and issues, and possibilities for social transformation, this perceived lack of explicit political engagement on the part of geographers interested in the arts is potentially troubling. At best it is a blind spot and a missed opportunity, and at worst a barrier to the ongoing development of art-geography relations and practices, and the realization of their potential within and without geography as a discipline.

Without necessarily accepting these critiques, we take them up here as both a reason to pause for thought and as a provocation for geographers to engage more explicitly with questions of the politics of art and creative practices.

We invite theoretical reflections, empirical examples and creative responses. These might query the form and kind of politics at stake in a range of creative practices; they might ask whose politics are being engaged to what ends. Contributions might also reflect on the related challenges and the responsibilities of geographers that are studying and working or creating with artists and other creative practitioners.

If interested, please send a max. 100-word bio and max. 200-word response to the provocation as one document to both Dr Harriet Hawkins at and Dr Martin Zebracki at by 17 October 2014. Selected contributors will then be invited to submit their response via the online submission form (for max. 200-word abstracts) at

Please feel free to contact us should you require any more information about this Call for Participants.