CFP Deadline Extended - 11 September: Aesthetics and Politics. Art as Resistance?

Submission deadline: September 11, 2022

Conference date(s):
November 4, 2022

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

King's College London
London, United Kingdom

Topic areas


Please note the new deadline for abstracts, Sunday 11 September.


In his philosophical work on the city-state (polis)Aristotle states that ‘to acquire a habit of feeling pain or taking delight in likenesses [works of art] is something closely allied to feeling pain or taking delight in the actual reality’ (Pol. 8.1340a23-5). For this reason, both Plato and Aristotle, though from different perspectives, are concerned with mimesis and its relationship to the polis, since the former has the power to transform the latter. 

Art, whatever its medium, is commonly thought of in part as an aesthetic re-presentation, as if something were not present, suggesting that this ‘absence’ can manifest itself through its ‘non-real’ aspect, rather than an aesthetic presentation of a new reality that becomes present in the aesthetic, ethical and political transformations that art cannot fail to entail, as Plato and Aristotle were able to glimpse.  

Philosophers or political theorists as diverse as Aristotle, Plato, Sartre, Rancière, Bourdieu, Deleuze, Foucault, Butler, Kristeva, Benjamin or Agamben have looked at aesthetic practices (literature, visual art, music, theatre, aesthetics of the body) to renew their concepts. Aesthetic practices can then be seen as particular sorts of acts that rethink and reshape reality, explore and question its definition and its boundaries, and can sometimes become a form of political resistance. 

In his well-known essay Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Walter Benjamin describes fascism’s attempt to aestheticise politics, allowing the proletariat a form of expression that does not lead to a material transformation in property relations. In answer to this he says that ‘Communism responds by politicising art.’ Benjamin’s juxtaposition reminds us both of the possibilities and risks that the entanglement of aesthetics and politics will entail. 

The purpose of this transdisciplinary conference is to explore the particular relations of aesthetics to politics.

We welcome contributions of 20 minute papers in relation but not limited to the following questions: 

  • How do we negotiate the tensions between aesthetics and politics? 

  • How can aesthetic practices resist structures of domination?

  • How do aesthetic practices act on reality and transform the ways in which we can relate to that reality? 

  • How do our aesthetic judgements impact our political choices? 

  • How can we think of the dual function that aesthetics can play in politics: as both a means of resistance and alienation? 

  • What role does the mimetic effect of aesthetics have in this dual function? 

  • How can aesthetics enable subversion of gender norms? 

  • What tools can the study of an act of creativity provide to think about aspects of reality that could otherwise go unnoticed? 

We welcome submissions from PGR students, in addition to ECRs and others who have recently completed their PhDs.

To apply, please submit a 250 word abstract and 100 word biographical statement via the online form:  

The deadline for applications is now Sunday 11th of September. Please contact us with any questions aestheticspoliticsconference[at] For further updates, please visit our website: 

Supporting material

Add supporting material (slides, programs, etc.)