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CFP: Contested Terrain: Art and Urban Crisis after 1960 (CAA Annual Conference, New York, 10-13 Feb 2021)

This panel explores how artists in the United States have responded to and challenged narratives of “urban crisis.” We are interested in the ways artists negotiate such real and perceived crises: the lived experience of inequality and the representations that stigmatize urban communities. In the 1960s—when cities were remade by government policy, grassroots activism, and neighborhood uprisings—artists developed new artistic genres that broke with modernist orthodoxies by reimagining the formal and social potential of art. In the decades that followed, the rise of neoliberalism and the professionalization of the artist in an increasingly global art market coincided with the instrumentalization of public art by state agencies and private developers to conceal the growing bifurcation of wealth and poverty within cities. Nevertheless, cities remained what urban historian Thomas Sugrue has called “contested terrain,” spaces where artists could reimagine everyday life, consolidate community solidarities, and protest the unequal distribution of power. How can a re-examination of the dramatic changes in the material form, spatial relations, and social processes of U.S. cities produce new histories of postwar art? How have artists been implicated in and resisted the ways social categories of race, class, gender, sexuality, and physical ability affect the organization of urban life? And what methodologies are necessary to grapple with the connections between urban and artistic change?

Potential paper topics include:
- Property: redevelopment, eviction, homelessness, gentrification
- Social movements: performance, protest, print culture
- Representation: mapping, street and documentary photography, abstraction
- Public art: government sponsorship, site-specificity, social practice

Session Chairs:
Marissa Baker, University of Illinois Chicago ( and Maya Harakawa, The Graduate Center, CUNY (

In order to submit your proposal, please send the following via email to the session chairs before Wednesday, September 16, 2020:
- Completed proposal form
- A shortened CV (close to 2 pages)
- (Optional) Documentation of work when appropriate, limit to five images as a single PDF, especially for sessions in which artists might discuss their own practice.

Please note that a paper that has been published previously or presented at another scholarly conference may not be delivered at the CAA Annual Conference. Additional FAQs can be found here:

Please visit the 'External Link' below for more information.

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