Cultures of Violence: Visual Arts and Political Violence, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Cultures of Violence

Visual Arts and Political Violence, 1st Edition

Edited by Ruth Kinna, Gillian Whiteley


152 pages | 2 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138624917
pub: 2020-04-24
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Investigating art practitioners’ responses to violence, this book considers how artists have used art practices to rethink concepts of violence and non-violence. It explores the strategies that artists have deployed to expose physical and symbolic violence through representational, performative and interventional means.

It examines how intellectual and material contexts have affected art interventions and how visual arts can open up critical spaces to explore violence without reinforcement or recuperation. Its premises are that art is not only able to contest prevailing norms about violence but that contemporary artists are consciously engaging with publics through their practice in order to do so. Contributors respond to three questions: how can political violence be understood or interpreted through art? How are publics understood or identified? How are art interventions designed to shift, challenge or respond to public perceptions of political violence and/or are constrained by them? They discuss violence in the everyday and at state level: the Watts’ Rebellion and Occupy, repression in Russia, domination in Hong Kong, the violence of migration and the unfolding art activist logic of the sigma portfolio.

Asking how public debates can be shaped through the visual and performing arts and setting taboos about violence to one side, the volume provides an innovative approach to a perennial issue of interest to scholars of international politics, art and cultural studies.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Art, culture and violence

Ruth Kinna and Gillian Whiteley

Chapter 1: From Watts to Wall Street: A situationist analysis of political violence

Martin Lang

Chapter 2: Protest art and public space: Oleg Kulik and the strategies of Moscow Actionism

Marina Maximova

Chapter 3: Project sigma: The temporality of activism

Vlad Morariu and Jaakko Karhunen

Chapter 4: Challenging state-led political violence with art-activism: Focus on borders

Amy Corcoran

Chapter 5: Power v. violence: how can contemporary art create a ‘space of appearance’ and generate social change?

Jessica Holtaway

About the Editors

Ruth Kinna works at Loughborough University in the School of Social Sciences and Humanities as a political theorist and historian of ideas.

Gillian Whiteley is Senior Lecturer in Art History and Visual Culture at Loughborough University and co-organiser of RadicalAesthetics-RadicalArt.

About the Series


The Series provides a forum for innovative and interdisciplinary work that engages with alternative critical, post-structural, feminist, postcolonial, psychoanalytic and cultural approaches to international relations and global politics. In our first 5 years we have published 60 volumes.

We aim to advance understanding of the key areas in which scholars working within broad critical post-structural traditions have chosen to make their interventions, and to present innovative analyses of important topics. Titles in the series engage with critical thinkers in philosophy, sociology, politics and other disciplines and provide situated historical, empirical and textual studies in international politics.


We are very happy to discuss your ideas at any stage of the project: just contact us for advice or proposal guidelines. Proposals should be submitted directly to the Series Editors:

‘As Michel Foucault has famously stated, "knowledge is not made for understanding; it is made for cutting" In this spirit The Edkins - Vaughan-Williams Interventions series solicits cutting edge, critical works that challenge mainstream understandings in international relations. It is the best place to contribute post disciplinary works that think rather than merely recognize and affirm the world recycled in IR's traditional geopolitical imaginary.’

Michael J. Shapiro, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, USA


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