Decolonization of arts: contribution from South Africa and Brasil. Power, visibility and cirulation in the (post) pandemic

Principal researcher: Laura Burocco

Research group: Practices and Politics of Culture


Knowledge transfer | Artistic practices | Power relations | Southern theories

Funding Institution

Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT)



Start date


End date



The proposed project takes the intersection of culture and power as the main focus of decolonization of knowledge critically approaching academia and the arts as a tool for meaningful decolonization. The project, based on a consolidated theoretical/ethnographic experience between South Africa and Brazil interrogates how can art and academia subvert the current dynamics of power in which they are embedded. The main question is addressed through an analysis of the effect of the increase of black/indigenous visibility; the impact of the pandemic in relation to (a) the decrease of physical mobility (b) the digital divide in terms of internet access for knowledge circulation; the power relations between afro and Afropolitan knowledge workers, and finally the symbolic and geopolitical value of international art events in southern continents. The project aims (1) to promote a North-South and South-South critical debate among a transdisciplinary research network regarding the hegemonic understanding of knowledge and art market hierarchies and their particular location in the N/S power structures; and (2) to enhance the circulation of body of artworks, theories, and literature by under-represented artists, scholars, and thinkers. It does so by promoting a program of academic research and artists exchanges; triangular (PT/AS/BR) collaborations with the universities and cultural bodies involved; a colloquium series on themes such as curatorial practices, southern arts events, new museums, educational programs for museums. With its focus on fostering cooperation between artists and academia, the project will provide a platform able to generate further curatorial collaborations which will enable the debate beyond the academia. Scientific dissemination activities are key for the project and will foster digital and independent publications and a southern publishing policy paying special attention to the issues of language and the need for translation. Co-authored publications will be encouraged. The empirical research methodology will be designed according to the evolution of COVID 19 conditions worldwide. It takes the pandemic as a limitation but also as an opportunity for exploring new digital methodologies and offering direct observation on the specificity of the Southern response. It focuses on an ethnographic and descriptive work regarding artworks and debates that allows, through research and analysis of specific local works and processes, to define situated knowledge. The project enhances international support for innovation focusing on cultural diversity and culture’s contribution to sustainable development. In full compliance with the 2030 Agenda’s 4 and 17 goals, the project reinforces multilateral cultural cooperation in a framework of common and more evenly balanced dialogue and planning.