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On Aesthetics and Politics: Valuing Folk Art and Performance as Expressions of Radical Equality

Dr Kiran Grewal at Swami Vipulanantha Institute of Aesthetics, Eastern University of Sri Lanka

When: 30 March 2016

Where: Swami Vipulanantha Institute of Aesthetics, Eastern University of Sri Lanka

On Aesthetics and Politics: Valuing Folk Art and Performance as Expressions of Radical Equality 

According to the French philosopher Jacques Rancière aesthetics is not so much a matter of art and taste but about time and space. In particular, Rancière argues, it is about how we create our place in society and how we communicate to build mutual understanding. For this reason aesthetics and politics are in fact intimately connected. If the political is any action that demands equal right to recognition and participation then the aesthetic is often a means by which this demand can be made. This is particularly the case for those individuals and groups that have traditionally been excluded from the formal political sphere. All too often the rural poor, those with lower formal education and those coming from low-caste or indigenous groups have been devalued: treated as ‘populations’ to be managed rather than citizens with voices. And yet they have continued to find ways to express their desires, assert their humanity and comment on their society. It is by finding ways to recognize and value these alternate expressions as political acts and responding to them that we open up the possibility for achieving a more radically equal society.

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