Print Friendly and PDF
only search openDemocracy.net

Arts, participation, exchange: who are 'we' in a moving world?

Can politics be more artful and art be more political? Here, we ask if art and digital communication can create new ways to talk about belonging, exclusion and responsibility.

Who are we banner_0.jpglead The new union jack. Image: Tate/OU/CPA. All rights reserved.Borders, citizenship and migration dominate political and media agendas. The referendum on EU membership in 2016 in Britain and the so-called refugee crisis in particular have sparked intense polarisation, leading rises in both xenophobic attitudes and solidarity activism. In times of social upheaval and transience we need to find spaces to ask who we are and how we know who we are.


Sara de Jong
Words alone can fall short of capturing what is really meant, even creating barriers rather than shared understandings. Post-truth politics and echo chambers challenge a sense of the possibility of meaningful communication. Where to go from here? Can politics be more artful and art be more political?

This special feature asks if art and digital communication can create new ways to talk about belonging, exclusion and responsibility. Can we form new collective identities and actions through engaged practice, visual, audio, and digital arts, film, photography, theatre and the spoken word?


Giota Alevizou
This special feature is developed by academics from The Open University who formed a collaboration with Counterpoints Arts (CPA) and the Universities of Loughborough and Warwick to organize a free 6-day cross-platform event in March 2017 entitled Who Are We? as part of Tate Exchange Programme. We are currently preparing the continuation of the Who Are We? Programme staged in 2018.

This feature presents 4 themes addressing:

  • Citizenship and Solidarities
  • Identities and Communities
  • Arts and Ethics
  • Hi/Stories and Memories
  • Each addresses co-production between artists, academics and audiences. Immerse yourself in the multi-media essays to confront one of the most pressing questions of our times: Who are we in a moving world?

    Access the entire film collection by Counterpoints Arts here

    Note on eLearning: For an educational iteration of ‘Who Are We?’ read our page on The Open University’s Open Learn: Art and Creative Methods to Interrogate identity, citizenship and migration.   

    We are currently preparing the continuation of the Who Are We? programme to be staged in the last week of May 2018.

    This article is published as part of an editorial partnership between openDemocracy, The Open University and Counterpoints Arts to reanimate the Tate Exchange project in which academics and artists together ask who – during a time when the lines marking out citizens, borders and nations are being redrawn, or drawn more starkly – 'we' are, and who gets to decide.
    About the authors

    Giota Alevizou is a Lecturer and Research Fellow in Digital Cultures and Citizenship at The Open University. She is interested in Urban Media Ecologies, Creative Civic Activism and the intersections of social media, knowledge and networked learning. She has recently co-authored The Creative Citizen Unbound (Policy Press, 2016) and is finalising a monograph, The Webs of Knowledge in the Digital Age (Polity, 2019).

    Giota is a guest editor for the editorial partnership, 'Who are 'we' in a moving world?'. The Open University is one of the Tate Exchange Associates who programmed the week of events ‘Who Are We?’.

    Sara de Jong is the Co-lead of the Justice, Borders, Rights research stream and Research Fellow of the Citizenship & Governance Strategic Research Area at The Open University. In her research on the politics of civil society, she employs a postcolonial perspective that traces the continuities between the colonial past and (post-)colonial present. She has recently published the monograph Complicit Sisters: Gender and Women's Issues across North-South Divides (2017), Oxford University Press.

    Sara is a guest editor for the editorial partnership, 'Who are 'we' in a moving world?'. The Open University is one of the Tate Exchange Associates who programmed the week of events ‘Who Are We?’.


    We encourage anyone to comment, please consult the
    oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.