Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency, and Cultural Production

Book discussion Fri 10 Nov 2017 7.00PM-8.30PM Bluestockings
172 Allen Street
New York, NY 10002

Free admission.

"The brilliant writers and debaters assembled here come at the issue from different angles, all from the central belief that art is never not political. In the end, they are less interested in arguing for or against tactics than they are in advocating an art of political thinking."

—Holland Cotter, co-chief art critic, the New York Times

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Cultural boycotts of museums, corporations, or entire governments are sometimes associated with censorship: in contested situations where different ethics clash, why would we engage in boycott and not support those whose ethics align with our own? How can a cause be helped when limitations are imposed on who gets heard?

To tackle these and other questions, the Vera List Center for Art and Politics organized a series of six seminars on current and historical cultural boycotts. On the occasion of the publication of Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency, and Cultural Production by OR Books, two contributors and one of the editors debate questions of free speech, censorship, and how cultural boycott in fact opens new avenues to collaborations and engagement. Rather than disengagement, boycott can leverage cultural production – and challenge its institutional supports – helping move political conflicts towards greater social justice.

This particular discussion focuses on Free Speech and the often voiced suggestion that engaging in boycotts amounts to censorship.

Mariam Ghani, artist and activist
Carin Kuoni, Director/Chief Curator, Vera List Center for Art and Politics
Svetlana Mintcheva, Director of Programs, National Coalition Against Censorship

Assuming Boycott is the essential reader for today's creative leaders and cultural practitioners, and includes original contributions by artists, scholars, activists, critics, curators and writers examine four key areas: the historical precedent of South Africa; the current cultural boycott of Israel; freedom of speech and self-censorship; and long-distance activism. Far from representing withdrawal or cynicism, boycott emerges as a special condition for discourse, artmaking and political engagement.

Published by OR Books, in association with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics.