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Durham University

School of Modern Languages & Cultures

Events in Modern Languages & Cultures

Justice and the Arts Research Group Seminar: Professor Sanja Bahun (University of Essex) 'Ars transienti'

28th May 2015, 17:00, A56, Elvet Riverside I, Durham University

Professor Sanja Bahun (University of Essex)

The questions of justice figure prominently in transitional periods, and they are integrally linked to the society’s effort to build institutions and social activities that both bring justice to the past through redistribution and recognition, and ensure the continued practice of fairness in society in the future. The UN has recently highlighted that to properly address the root-causes of political abuses in a society, it is necessary also to tackle violations of economic, social and cultural rights (OHCHR, 2009). This view is reliant on an experientially supported assumption that culture—including art-practices and art heritage—presents a vital contribution to building just societies. The arts - literature, film, visual art, music, theatre, dance, and architecture, across the “high” vs. “popular” culture division - present both a catalyst mechanism and an important information and reparation tool to support societies in transition. The works of art speak of the challenges of transition, contribute to, and, on occasion, hinder transitional processes. In any type of engagement, the artistic probing of transition critically exposes the commensurabilities and disparities between the general reading of the rule of law and its local perception, and the external and the internal practices in place to promote legality in a given society.

Professor Bahun’s talk will address the multifaceted roles and complex functioning of the arts in societies in transition, and the trans-cultural and cross-temporal transfers, transits, and interactions that an engagement with transition necessitates. We will traverse multiple global sites and types of artistic production, including Argentina, Guatemala, South Africa, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Peru, Timor Leste, and the former Yugoslavia.

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