Doreen Massey Annual Event, 27 June 2019 : Environmental Engagement and the Politics of Creative Practice

Wednesday, 27 June 2019, 10:30 – 18:30

FutureLearn, 1-11 Hawley Crescent, Camden Town, London NW1 8NP

Environmental Engagement and the Politics of Creative Practice

Artistic and creative practice has become an increasingly important set of resources and methods used for public engagement (Gauntlet 2007, Kara 2015). Arts based engagement with contemporary environmental issues, for example related the climate change and the complex environmental issues of the Anthropocene, has become a key area for such developments (Buckland 2006). Creative practice may be understood as research that involves participants and respondents in imagining, making and telling as a set of interrelated practices. Taken together as a process of engagement, these should, as Helguera (2011) suggests, be both educational in the broadest sense and mutually transformative for the publics, practitioners and researchers involved. Examples abound in areas as diverse as scientific and environmental understanding, policy and planning, health and wellbeing and community, diversity and social cohesion. In these and other contexts, creative practice can encourage conversation around issues that might otherwise be difficult to articulate and provide a presence for human and non-human others in discussions and debates (Dryzek and Niemeyar 2012; Kester 2004, 2011).  From this perspective it is possible to see how such artistic and creative practice might facilitate a more inclusive ‘more-than-human’ environmental politics (Braun and Whatmore 2010) with capacity to give a presence to human and non-human voices (Latour 1993, 20). As Braidoti (2018) has recently argued this has the potential for contributing to: ‘a frame for the actualization of the many missing people, whose ‘minor’ or nomadic knowledge is the breeding ground for possible futures’.

Though asymmetries of power are often acknowledged between publics, practitioners and institutional decision makers in relation to creative engagements (Bishop 2006, 2010), the ways in which creative practice might more fully participate in political processes and decision making often remain implicit. All too frequently it is simply assumed that artistic and creative engagements will inform, animate and activate publics and public opinion. Yet the means by which this is achieved and matters of interest are transformed into ‘matters of concern’ (Latour 2004) often remains opaque (Helguera 2011). Increasingly the role of creative engagements as educational process are recognized as an important component of their transformative potential in terms of the broader understanding of complex information and the co-creation of knowledge both of which might encourage more informed and and inclusive decision making. However, the relationships between artistic and creative practices, educational processes and a more inclusive politics remain to be more fully explored. 

This workshop will:

  • Examine the role of artistic and creative practice in facilitating educational engagements;
  • Explore the ways in which artistic and creative practice might be formally and informally engaged in              environmental decision making, political debate and process.


Bishop, C. (2006) The Social Turn: Collaboration and its discontents. Art Forum, February, pp.179 – 185

Bishop, C. (2010) Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship, London: Verso

Braidotti, R. (2018) A Theoretical Framework for the Critical Posthumanities. Theory Culture & Society. Accessed 01/12/2018 at

Braun, B. and Whatmore, S. J. (eds.) (2010) Political matter: technoscience, democracy and public life (University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis).

Buckland, D. (2006) Burning ice: art and climate change, London: Cape Farewell.

Dryzek, J. and Niemeyar, S. (2012) What is deliberative democracy? D2G2 Blogpost, Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance.Accessed 20/02/2018 at

Gauntlett, D. (2007) Creative explorations: new approaches to identities and audiences.Abingdon: Routledge.

Helguera, P. (2011). Education for Socially Engaged Art: A materials and techniques handbook, New York: Jorge Pinto Books

Kara, H. (2015) Creative Research Methods in the Social Sciences: A practical guide, Bristol: Policy Press.

Kester, G. H. (2004). Conversation Pieces: Community and communication in modern art, Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press.

Kester, G.H. (2011). The One and the Many: Contemporary Collaborative Art in the Global Context,Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Latour, B. (1993)We have never been modern, Harvester Wheatsheaf: Hemel Hempstead.

Latour, B. (2004)Politics of nature: how to bring the sciences into democracy, Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University Press