UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Making place in hostile space : what are limits and radical possibilities of arts-based activism utilized by queer racialized activists in Britain today? Pollard-Crowe, Jade


This thesis looks at the various formulations of art-based activism being utilized by queer racialized artists and activists working in Britain today. Much of the scholarship mapping queer arts-based activism has failed thus far to position race as a key point of analysis; this thesis looks to contribute to thinking otherwise. Analyzing a historic genealogy of race-based arts activism in Britain such as the 1979 formation of the BLK Arts Group and the works of Rashead Araeen, I look at the path that was paved for the queer racialized, politicized works we have seen take rise over the past decade. Further I make global links to the historic politicized arts-activism enacted by Black women in the Americas. Confronted by the erasure from both geographic and archival space, I argue that queer people of colour in Britain are “making place” in hostile space while ensuring our rightful place in the archive being made from the history of this moment. Key questions that have guided this research include: what are the possibilities such arts-based activism is enabling? What are the limitations of the activism and how are these being mediated by the activists I look at? What spaces are they operating in and how are they utilizing art as a medium to enact social change? What various forms is the activism I analyze taking on? I find that collectivist formations are the preferred way of working similarly, building and fostering community a key factor underpinning both the process and outcomes of the arts-based activism I look at. I employ the literature of scholars working across a diverse range of fields such as art history, performance studies, critical race theory, queer and gender studies, and sociology to aid my thinking. The inherently interdisciplinary nature of arts-based activism is reflected by the inability to remain in one field when analyzing the various manifestations of the activism which, this thesis argues, is a core strength of employing the use of art in activism.

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