Voicing Dissent : American Artists and the War on Iraq book cover
1st Edition

Voicing Dissent
American Artists and the War on Iraq

ISBN 9780415800587
Published December 23, 2009 by Routledge
320 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Voicing Dissent presents a unique and original series of interviews with American artists (including Guerrilla Girls on Tour, Tony Shalhoub, Shepard Fairey, Sean Astin, and many others) who have voiced their opposition to the war in Iraq. Following Pierre Bourdieu's example, these discussions are approached sociologically and provide a thorough analysis of the relationships between arts and politics as well as the limits and conditions of political speech and action. These painters and graphic artists, musicians, actors, playwrights, theatre directors and filmmakers reveal their perceptions of politics, war, security and terrorism issues, the Middle East, their experiences with activism, as well as their definition of the artist's role and their practice of citizenship. Addressing the crucial questions for contemporary democracies - such as artists' function in society, the crisis of political legitimacy and representation, the rise of new modes of contestation, and the limits to free public speech - this book will be of interest to scholars in sociology, politics, and the arts.

Table of Contents

Foreword  Michèle Lamont.  Preface  Steve Greenfield and Guy Osborn.  Introduction  Section 1: Figures of Committed Artists  1. Models and Public Voices in the Anti-War Movement  1.1. Robbie Conal: Figure of the Activist-Artist  1.2. Mike Farrell and Robert Greenwald: Leaders of the Hollywood Movement  1.3. Ozomatli: Not to "Separate Ourselves from the Movement"  1.4. Kathleen Chalfant: Combining Radicalism with Establishment  2. Generations and Relations to Politics  2.1. Sheila Pinkel: Activist-Artist in a Dark Time  2.2. Margo Lee Sherman: Bread and Puppet’s Legacy  2.3. Ed Asner: Ambivalence of a Leftist Identification  2.4. Cynthia Croot: Temporally Rooted Devotion  2.5. Emek: Politicization as an Artistic Innovation  3. Identities, Communities and Anti-War Activism  3.1. Tony Shalhoub and Amitis Motevalli: Confronting Middle-Eastern Perspectives  3.2. Dread Scott: Use of Multilayered Identifications  3.3. Alexandra Paul: Strategic Identities in the Service of a Cause  3.4. Guerilla Girls On Tour: Women and Anti-War Activism  Section 2: Artistic Professions and Politics  4. Costs and Paradoxes of Engaged Art  4.1. Lida Abdullah and Susan Silton: Threats on the Visual Arts  4.2. David Clennon: The Price of Political Commitment in Hollywood  4.3. Fredwreck: The Rules of the Music Industry  4.4. Sophia Skiles: Professional Ambivalences of Political Commitment  4.5. Mear-One: Paradoxes of Politicization  5. Shaping a Political Intention in the Form of Art: From Tension to Affinity  5.1. Focus 1: Around Day Zero: The "Political Fiction Film", An Impossible Genre? Interviews with Bryan Gunnar Cole (director), Robert Malkany(scriptwriter), Jon Bernthal (actor) and Anthony Moody (producer)  5.2. Focus 2: Around Living Theatre’s Plays The Brig, No Sir and A Day in the Life of the City: Uses and Constraints of Street Theatre Plays. Interviews with Actors from the Living Theatre (Jerry Goralnick and Garry Brackett)  5.3. Shepard Fairey: Changing Clients into Publics  6. Hollywood and the War: Celebrities versus Politicians?  6.1. Paul Haggis: Leading by Example  6.2. Bradley Whitford: The Dynamics of The West Wing  6.3. Sean Astin: Hollywood, Politics and Power  6.4. Peter Coyote: Engagement versus Activism  6.5. Kimberly Pierce: The Strength of "Cultural Power"

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Violaine Roussel is a sociologist and professor of Political Science at the University of Paris VIII and currently a visiting scholar in the Department of Sociology at UCLA.

Bleuwenn Lechaux is currently completing a PhD in political science at the University of Rennes on a comparative analysis of the involvement of theatre artists for social and political causes in Paris and New York since the 1970s.


"Shows why and how artists become activists, without sacrificing their art. These are fascinating stories."

- David S. Meyer, University of California, Irvine.

From the Foreword:

Lechaux and Roussel “present iconic figures who reveal to us a broad register of ways of engaging, a repertoire of argument that we could not anticipate beforehand. Thus the reader emerges with a much deeper understanding of the nexus between politics, culture, and human subjectivity. And also, of course, of the topic at hand – how artists tried to make a difference in a very specific episode of contemporary American history. The experience will be enriching and imminently worthwhile. This is why I invite you to spend a few hours with this book. You will not be disappointed.”

- Michèle Lamont, Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies and Professor of Sociology and African and African-American Studies, Harvard University