Appel à communication : « Social Responsibility and Art Since the 1960s : Interdisciplinary Perspectives » (Colchester, University of Essex, mai 2015)

Ivan Messac, fresque sur papier, Université de Nanterre, 1969This conference seeks to explore artistic and scholarly approaches to social responsibility and the arts since the 1960s. During the 1960s, social responsibility was a pivotal idea in political, social and artistic discussions. The decade wasmarked by social change. The Civil Rights movement, second-wave feminism,decolonisation, and much civil unrest that culminated in the worldwide protests of May 1968, the largest of which occurred in France. In the following decades movements, groups, and artists addressed social responsibility in their practice.

Who is responsible for the content and reaction to art ? The artist ? The viewer ? The sponsor ? Social responsibility as an ethical term has routes into the recognition of the world as socially constituted. Aristotle claimed that man was not hermetic,human life is social, political and communication based (Politics, I. §1253a). The development of social responsibility can be seen through the impact of ethics in the business world. As a business term, Corporate Social Responsibility is attributed to Howard Bowen who « defined the social responsibilities of  ‘businessmen’as their obligations to ‘pursue those policies, to make those decisions, or to follow those lines of action which are desirable in terms of the objectives and values of our society’” (Crane et al, 2008: 304; Bowen, 1953: 6).

This conference seeks to consider social responsibility within a wider discourse of art and its role in society. The intention is to challenge singular readings proposing to fix the meaning of social responsibility in art. We welcome papers that consider thefollowing questions: does art need to be accountable to the public ? Where does social responsibility for artistic practice lie, with corporations, institutions or artists?We welcome papers from a wide range of disciplines exploring social responsibilityand the arts.

We would particularly encourage papers from both within and outside of the traditional canon of art history.To submit a proposal for a 20-minute presentation, we require an abstract notexceeding 300 words and a brief professional biography of 100 words by 2nd March 2015. All submissions should be sent to


Social Responsibility and Art Since the 1960s: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Friday 22 May 2015 
University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester CO4 3SQ


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