José Soares Neves (ISCTE-IUL/CIES)
Paula Abreu (FEUC/CES)
Paula Guerra (FLUP/IS-UP/CEGOT/CITCEM)
The Thematic Section of Art, Culture and Communication of the Portuguese Sociological Association invites to a reflection around structural issues of contemporaneity, such as social identity/gender/religion/etc., and how this identity issues are becoming more and more widespread and confronted in a world where populisms have reappeared - mottoes of the XI Portuguese Congress of Sociology to be held online, and in Lisbon - between March 29th and 31st, 2021.
A little like the whole of society, art was no exception and it was in the spotlight with criticisms and visions that question the prevalence of certain identities and the absence of others. In 2016, the #OscarsSoWhite campaign was seen for the first time. In Portugal, a group of Portuguese writers, such as Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida, who in the book Esse Cabelo (That Hair) reflects on her identity and a "cartography of inaptitude" based on their curly hair. On the other hand, in 2018, at the International Book Fair (FIL) in Guadalajara, Mexico, there was a session on the Portuguese colonial presence in Africa, a difficult issue to deal for a country with an excess of identity, as Eduardo Lourenço says.
This was to argue the growing relevance of art, culture and communication as a vehicle for analysis of the above issues, both within the discipline and in the social sciences. And if in the last edition we talked about the ambiguity of the concept of culture and of all the reconfigurations that have guided the cultural sphere and the place of the arts in societies, more can be said in this edition. We have to ask ourselves: to what extent is art a participating force in the processes of reconfiguration and affirmation of identity? How do arts, culture and communication perpetuate and serve the perpetuation of traditional definitions of identity or participate in disputes that shatter such notions of identity?
Hence the need to consider a heterogeneous set of categories such as gender, social class, ethnicity, nationalism and national identity, among others. Let us look at the controversies about cultural appropriations, very common in popular music. In recent years, artists have been criticized for an apparent incompatibility between their musical style and their ethnic identity. On the one hand, this testifies how certain academic concepts jump the walls of the academy and become mainstream political concepts, producing reality. On the other hand, we wonder about the consequences of the analyses we produce and how they serve to sediment identity barriers, playing the game of populist movements.
What we want in this Call is to challenge the debate about how the artistic worlds, their professionals, in the various institutional contexts, networks and audiences, get involved in these recent controversies. How do artists shape their identities in their works? How do different artistic forms - from theatre, to dance, contemporary performing arts, plastic arts, architecture, literature, film, journalism, public art, urban art - intervene in the public sphere and shape our vision of identities and populism? And also, how the analyses we produce intersect with these same processes. Having said that, we also enunciate the need to break the Eurocentric vision that has dominated the social sciences and, in particular, the sociology of culture, arts and communication, both from an epistemological and ontological point of view, in order to correspond to the challenges posed by contemporary realities.
Therefore, we invite all sociologists, researchers and related professionals, to send proposals for research abstracts located in academic and non-academic context as a response to our Call. Posters and visual documents - such as short films focused on projects or interventions - can also be accepted. These proposals, despite the differences between the academic and the non-academic context, should be formulated considering a theoretical framework, objectives, methodologies used, diagnosis, results and conclusions. These same axes should must combine three ambitions: innovation, evaluation and monitoring.