Call for Papers Practicing the Social: Entanglements of Art and Justice

March 12, 2019


This volume will examine various interdisciplinary entanglements between art and social justice, exploring challenges, possibilities, and tensions that define our academic fields and range of social practices. We seek to bring into conversation and contestation two distinct strains of arts methodologies: social science- driven arts-based research and more humanities-inflected research creation/ practice-based research methodologies. We aim to open a space for investigating the entangled and divergent genealogies and trajectories of arts-based research and research creation, and for examining their disruptive and productive frictions. Considering these methodological entanglements invites both an examination of practical questions of how we do our work, both creative and critical, and an epistemological and ontological inquiry into our ways of knowing, of material and conceptual sites of knowledge generation.

This volume will explore the tensions that emerge at sites of art/human/social/spatial/temporal intersections as entanglements. Following from Kathleen Gallagher, we invite submissions that “engage in honest struggle with the knotty methodological dilemmas” (2008, 2) of our work: entanglements of theory and practice, of analysis and agency, of embodiment and difference, of place, space, and memory, of art and community-making, of the differences that bodies and minds of difference make, of colonial legacies and Indigenous voices and perspectives, of past, present and future, of knowledge and affect, and of love and resistance. We also welcome work that examines how critical research creation methods, like concepts, travel across temporalities and landscapes: these methodologies can be understood as flexible, processual, and mobile, as both transformed by and transforming of each project that engages and experiments with them.

We want to engage here with art as a discourse as well as an affective force that intersects with various other disciplinary, research, and activist frameworks, and we invite explorations of collaborative art-making in research that challenge the overwhelming inequalities of the social and vast erasures of the cultural. We use Susan Finley’s framing of critical arts-based research as research that uses art (literary writing, dance, sound, film, storytelling, visual art etc.) during any phase of social research—including data collection, analysis, interpretation, and representation. It is “research that is deliberately transformative and inspires us to reflection, rewards our attention with introspection, and moves us to ethical, political action necessary to initiate positive change in our social interactions” (2014, p. 531). Further, we propose an intentionally loose, opened-ended notion of “research creation,” one that includes ways of generating and reconfiguring knowledge through the incorporation of artistic practice and that spans diverse modalities and processes— conventional and medium breaking/blurring, visual and textual, linear and nonlinear, static and moving, performative and evocative, virtual and physical, aural and tactile, and past and future oriented.

Context & Commitments

Efforts to co-opt discourses and practices of “creativity” have intensified over the last few decades through the logics of scientific/social scientific instrumentalism (which promotes creativity in order to spur discovery, invention, and utilization of ideas, processes and things) as well as of neoliberal capitalism (which values and mobilizes creativity to the extent that it promotes competition and generates profit). Yet these attempts at taming the creative have not occurred without resistance; artists and academics have pushed against these trends, in part, by exposing and critiquing their logics, by disrupting their operations through various forms of activist art practice, and by creating new discourses and structures to support forms of valuation that do not reduce the worth/merit of artistic work to utility or profitability. Our collection seeks to build on this critique while thinking constructively and creatively about the work that art does in the world. In this, we invite submissions that advance rigour, imagination, care, interchange, and justice in critical arts-based research and creation research; at the same time, we push against homogenizing definitions of our terms, and of any singular or universal methodological standard for assessing creative and artistic processes and outputs.

Following Estelle Barrett (2014), Glen Lowry (2015), and Greame Sullivan & Min Gu (2017) along with other arts methodologists and practitioners, we distinguish community-based arts research from studio- based research-creation in recognition of differences in the purpose and quality of works created by practice-based scholar-artists and social researchers who may or may not have long-term/primary immersion in artistic practice. Arts-based research processes typically are understood to privilege the research apparatus surrounding knowledge production (research questions, methodological justifications, dissemination plans) with art-making as method. Research creation and practice-led research, in contrast, are often thought of as approaches that give greater attention to what can be learned through making art and the insights this brings: mastery of technique; cultivation of unique artistic practices; consideration of aesthetic concerns; and discovery of the entanglements between inner and outer worlds through artistic and theoretical investigations. For Owen Chapman and Kim Sawchuk (2012), both streams issue a serious challenge to “argumentative form(s) that have typified much academic scholarship” in how they invite pursuing entangled theoretical, technical, and creative threads of a research problem and encourage the “broach[ing] and breach[ing]” of “scholarly form and decorum” in the name of experimentation and innovation. Patricia Leavy concurs and further argues that arts research has become its own “emerging paradigm” (2018, p. 12)—encompassing all artistic media and approaches to research, as well as all analytical and exploratory approaches to artistic creation.

We seek in this collection contributions that engage with these forms of creative methodologies— participatory/ community-based and professionalized/ practice-based—or that blur the boundaries between them, as well as submissions that examine the possibilities and limitations of each for everyday change- making and broader social transformation. It is our premise that these approaches, though often juxtaposed against each other, are also deeply entangled; each engages with questions of ethics and aesthetics, politics and poetics, relationality and subjectivity, and both undertake the urgent work of exposing/transposing intimate and planetary injustices and imagining more just possibilities.

Problematics & Thematics

Questions that Practicing the Social asks may include (but are not limited to):

What do arts-based methodologies contribute in times of extreme political polarization, racism, conflict, volence, and trauma?

How are institutions transformed by acts of art and how do systems transform artistic modes of inquiry?

What are the limits and possibilities of creative methodologies in social practice research?

How do we make space for failure and move through challenges?

How do we theorize the productive and disruptive frictions among artists, researchers, communities and activists? To what ends?

What ethical dilemmas do artist-academics who work in art, performance and design programs confront? How might their ethical concerns differ from and overlap with dilemmas of arts-based researchers who work under the gaze of institutional research ethics boards?

How do we capture the affective, or the emotive and visceral, impacts of art making and experiencing? The work that art does affectively and intellectually in ways that trouble the primacy of the written word and the metrics used to measure impact in the neoliberal academy?

What affects flow among artists and researchers, artist-researchers and the materials and subjects of their craft, and artistic offerings and audiences, and how might these be surfaced and analyzed?

How do academics and artists account for themselves—their embodiments, contexts and histories—in their creative work? How do they engage with various publics who have a stake in their work? What are the roles of reflexivity and accountability in advancing social justice through the arts?

How does research creation create new knowledge? Bring into being new realities or dimensions of reality? How do we peer review and disseminate multimedia arts research?

What is the “work of art in the world” (Sommer, 2014)? How does art move people and systems?

Possible Topics & Themes

Practicing the Social welcomes but is not limited to scholarly analysis, primary research, critical personal narrative, and artistic works. This aims to be an interdisciplinary collection of scholarly, political and artistic work that explores collaborative entanglements between art and justice movements. Possible topics and themes may include (but are not limited to):

→  Activism, coalition building, and arts methodologies

→  The politics and ethics of critical arts methodologies

→  Colonial entanglements of and decolonizing activist arts methodologies

→  The gendered, sexed, raced, classed dimensions of the embodied and embedded in art making

→  Human/ animal / technological/ environmental intertwinement in art making and arts-based research

→  Entanglements of bodies and spaces in arts-based research and research creation

→  Dance, movement, and performance methodologies for change-making

→  The movement of bodies and minds of difference (including D/deaf, Mad, disabled, non-visual, fat, aging bodies) in and through creative theory-practice(s)

→  Cripping, queering, fattening and decolonizing the artistic and social research

→  Collaborations that problematize who art is for across social, cultural, or political hierarchies

→  Activist and arts-based methodologies at the intersections of multiple differences

→  Racialized bodies, intersectionalities, micro-aggressions, micro-recognitions and transformations

→  Turning the gaze on whiteness, settler colonialism, and other unmarked normativities

→  Bodies, biopedagogies, food, fatness, and wellbeing

→  Podcasts, and the disembodied voice

→  Theatre, social justice, and relaxed performance

→  Theorizing the affective and the ‘felt’ in activist arts methodologies

→  Trajectories of access and inclusion in artistic inquiry and social practice research

→  Power dynamics in and around social practice and arts-based research

→  Mobilities, fixities, and liminalities surrounding migrant/ refugee artistic production

→  Animating the land, sky, water, and environment through arts methodologies

→  Authorship and ownership in creative methodologies

→  The role of consumerism and operations of neoliberal logics in creative research

Submission Steps

To be considered for inclusion in this collection, please send a 300-500 word abstract and a current CV to Ingrid Mundel ( and Carla Rice ( by May 1st, 2019. Any questions about the topic can also be directed to us.

Submissions for consideration for inclusion in the book will undergo a multi-stage process of peer-review, beginning with an initial review by the editors. Contributors will be notified of the decision on their abstract by July 2019. Acceptance of an abstract does not guarantee inclusion in the book.

The editors plan to apply for funding to host a workshop in the Winter/Spring 2020. At this workshop, invited contributors will be sponsored to attend in person in order to present draft chapters of their work. This will help us prepare for a submission of the manuscript for review by the publisher.

The manuscript will be a multimedia text that in addition to more traditional text-based contributions will also incorporate sound, image, video and other non-text files. We will support contributors in integrating ASL, captions, audio descriptions and other accessibility features into their multimedia contributions.

Full manuscript submissions should be between 3,000 to 6,000 words, including all notes and references. Full manuscript submissions are due August 2020.

About the Editors

Dr. Carla Rice is Professor and Canada Research Chair at the University of Guelph, specializing in disability and embodiment studies and in unconventional and creative research methodologies. In 2012, she founded the Re•Vision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice as an arts-informed research centre with a mandate to foster inclusive communities and social well-being. She is Principal Investigator of Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology and Access to Life, a multi-year, multi-site disability and non-normative arts grant that she co-directs with Dr. Eliza Chandler. She has received awards for advocacy, research, and mentorship has published on embodied difference, non-normative cultures, and practices of accessibility and inclusion. Published books include Gender and Women’s Studies: Critical Terrain (with Marg Hobbs, first edition 2013; second edition, 2018): Becoming Women: The Embodied Self in Image Culture (2014); The Aging/Disability Nexus (with Christine Kelly and Katie Aubrecht, forthcoming, UBC Press) and Thickening Fat: Fat Bodies, Intersectionality and Social Justice (with Jen Rinaldi and May Friedman, forthcoming, Routledge).

Dr. Ingrid Mündel is the co-founder and Managing Director of the Re•Vision Centre for Art and Social Justice at the at the University of Guelph, Ontario. She is an experienced community-based researcher, facilitator, and educator with a particular interest in arts-based approaches to community dialogue and social change. Through her work at the Re•Vision Centre she has lead, developed, and designed over 50 intensive multi-day digital storytelling workshops with queer, Indigenous, racialized, feminist, and disability-identified activist, artists, youth, community-members, and scholars. Mündel holds a PhD from the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph. Her current research uses the notion of “storytelling for social change” as a starting point to explore the complicated links between movements for social justice in Canada and the current neoliberal capitalist framework. She has articles published in Hypatia, Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, The Canadian Review of Sociology, Theatre Research in Canada, Canadian Literature, and Postcolonial Text. She co-edited the book with Ric Knowles ‘Ethnic,’ Multicultural, and Intercultural Theatre in Canada and has book chapters in Political Theatre and Performance and Class Action: Human Rights, Critical Activism, and Community-Based Education.


Barrett, E, (2014). Introduction. In E. Barrett and B. Bolt (Eds.) Practice as research: Approaches to creative arts enquiry. 3rd Edition (pp. 1-14). New York: I.B Tauris & Co. Ltd.

Chapman, O. B., & Sawchuk, K. (2012). Research-creation: Intervention, analysis and "family resemblances". Canadian Journal of Communication, 37(1), 5-26.

Finley, S. (2014). An Introduction to critical arts-based research: Demonstrating methodologies and practices of a radical ethical aesthetic. Cultural Studies <--> Critical Methodologies,14(6), 531–532.

Gallagher, K. (Ed.). (2008). Introduction. In The methodological dilemma: Creative, critical and collaborative approaches to qualitative research (pp. 1-8). New York: Routledge.

Leavy, P. (Ed.) (2018) Introduction to arts-based research. In Handbook of arts-based research, 3rd Edition (pp. 3-22). New York: Guilford Press.

Lowry, G. (2015). Props to bad artists: On research-creation and a cultural politics of university-based art. RACAR: Revue d'art canadienne, 40(1), 42–46.

Sommer, D. (2014). The work of art in the world: Civic agency and public humanities. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Sullivan, G. & Gu, M. (2017) The possibilities of research—The promise of practice. Art Education, 70 (2), 49-57.

Re•Vision Centre