Scope and purpose of the reading group

How and why do nation-states become interested in the arts, in its promotion, and regulation? How is art used by dissident groups to create or contest political identities or movements? How does this political use or promotion of art intersect with market dynamics? How do categories in art appear? What role do governments, markets and artists play in producing these categories? To whom does this matter? How do governments or political groups mediate the relationship between specific artists and their audiences?

By asking questions concerning constraints and freedom, this reading group contemplates different ways in which power translates and transforms through art practice. Recognising that the art world is an arena of power rather than simply as a tool for communication or representation, we will what art practice might tell us about social and political institutions and relations, and how it intersects with the predicaments and privileges of those with whom it engages.

We invite interested doctoral and post-doctoral researchers, academics, artists, and authors to be a part of this reading group. By reading, listening, examining, and talking together, we hope for an equally rewarding and meaningful outcome in exploring the deeply fraught yet dynamic alliance of art and politics.


The Art and Politics Reading Group is Co-hosted by CRASSH and the Global Humanities Network


Reading group information

The reading group will be held online, over Zoom, on the second Monday of each month between October and June, between 13:00 and 14:30 UK time.

All researchers are welcome, junior or senior, but they must already have a PhD or be currently enrolled in a PhD programme.

The seminars will not be recorded, as we wish to encourage everyone to speak and ask questions freely.

If you would like to join our mailing list to receive the reading group programme and links to the reading for each session, please sign up for the mailing list.

The mailing list will only be used to communicate information about the reading group and its activities.

Guidelines for seminar leaders

The reading chosen for the seminar should be a single book chapter or article, or equivalent in length. The text should not have been written by you (there may be opportunities for group members to present their own work at an event to be organised in the future).

We would like to focus on recent contributions to scholarship rather than canonical ones, and to ensure that we are studying the works of a good range of scholars beyond the Anglophone world. However, for practical purposes, as the group involves members from many different countries, the text set for reading would need to be available in English translation.

Please prepare a 15-minute introduction to be given at the beginning of the seminar, situating the reading within broader contexts or debates that you judge to be relevant, and making reference to other works by the author if you wish (please do not assume that anyone else will know these). If you wish, you may identify a series of questions to kickstart the general discussion that will follow.

Guidelines for all participants

Anyone joining the seminar will be asked to participate as fully as they feel able to so that we can all benefit from a range of different perspectives. So do please keep your webcam on, unless you need to switch it off temporarily. We understand that occasionally members will be in a setting where it is difficult to speak aloud, in that case please make use of the chat function in that situation.

This reading group should be a friendly, safe and inclusive environment, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, race, language, political opinion, disability, physical appearance, or religion. All participants are expected to show respect and courtesy to other participants. Anyone who does not will be removed from seminars and from the mailing list.


Reading group programme October – December 2023

All sessions will be held between 13:00 and 14:30 UK time. Zoom links and texts will be sent to the mailing list in advance of each seminar. To sign up for the mailing list, please see the instructions on the ‘Information’ tab.

The texts given below should be read in advance of the meeting.

  • 9 October (Joanna Page)
    Elizabeth Harney and Ruth B. Phillips, ‘Introduction: Inside Modernity: Indigeneity, Coloniality, Modernisms.’ In Harney and Phillips (eds), Mapping Modernisms: Art, Indigeneity, Colonialism (Durham, Duke University Press, 2018), (pp. 1-29. doi:10.1215/9780822372615)
  • 13 November (Malvika Maheshwari)
    Peter Weibel. ‘Art and Democracy.’ In Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel (eds), Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy (Ann Arbor: MIT Press, 2005), pp. 1008-1037
  • 11 December (Ranjini Nair)
    Kajri Jain, “Emergence.” In Gods in the Time of Democracy (Durham: Duke University Press, 2021), pp. 1-27. (


Tel: +44 1223 766886