'Decolonial’ city-making: art, music, fashion and aesthetics

Please join the Decolonial Cities Collective’s second Dialogue event, a virtual conversation between Peju Layiwola, Red City Solidarity Disco and AFRI - 17th July 2023, 3pm-4.30pm

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Art, music, fashion and aesthetics are as central to city-making as are conventional structures of urban governance. They have the capacity to introduce radical approaches that challenge inequities and long-standing power structures in the city. Whilst academic debates to ‘decolonise’ our approaches to the urban offer some purchase to unpack stifled resistance they can also obscure long-standing alternative practices and claims to the city. In this second dialogue in our series we turn the spotlight on art, music, fashion and aesthetics to explore with practitioners, artists and activists how their work, which is directly encountered by city inhabitants, impacts the fabric of the city and everyday lived experience. Their interventions have complicated histories that visualise and embody alternative urban narratives. They trouble the distinction between the public and private and are an important force in today's cities. However, they can be vulnerable to a range of co-options beyond the artist, activist or researchers’ intent. This dialogue promises to be a unique and exciting event. It brings together three distinct practitioners to explore how modes of creative practice activate modes of thinking and being political.

  • Prof Peju Layiwola is an art historian, internationally regarded mixed-media artist and activist based in Lagos, Nigeria. Her interventions through scholarship and practice give visibility to Benin’s enduring cosmology as a sophisticated ancient African city and kingdom, which predates the colonial incursion. Prof Layiwola is a committed advocate for the return of the Benin Bronzes and is the immediate past President of the Arts Council of the African Studies Association, USA (ACASA). 
  • Red City Solidarity Disco based in Liverpool is run by Theo Temple, PhD candidate in political geography at King’s College London, and Ellie Jane, MA candidate in Art Psychotherapy at Sheffield Hallam University. They aim to engage with struggles in the city around housing, work and migration. Red City Solidarity Disco collaborates with grassroots organisers, refugee support services, unions, community law centres and artistic practitioners, to find opportunities for knowledge and resource sharing as well as fundraising.  
  • AFRI - African Fashion Research Institute, utilises fashion-driven decolonial research projects to engage local and global African fashion activists, pioneers, academics, makers, thinkers, students, critics and leaders. AFRI aims to centre African fashion decolonial aesthetics as key to understanding and articulating diverse, alternate identity narratives, cultural and conceptual positions. They seek partnerships and collaborations to reach broad audiences through platforms and networks of knowledge generation and exchange.

This event will open with position statements from each speaker/organisation followed by a discussion moderated by Angela Becher (Liverpool), Delacey Tedesco (Exeter) and Naluwembe Binaisa (London).

The Decolonial Cities Collective is an interdisciplinary group of researchers interested in establishing a community of practice towards furthering our commitment to decoloniality, social justice, and care in cities. Founded in 2022 as an outcome of a workshop organised by the British Academy and Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, we aim to create opportunities for a community of practice through organising a series of periodic conversations called Decolonial Cities Dialogues.

Tanzil Shafique, Lecturer of Urban Design at the The University of Sheffield School of Architecture and also an Associate of the Urban Institute, is the PI of the awarded grant. 


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