From Grassroots to Systems Change: Art for Social Justice

Marian Taylor Brown, Hyppolite Ntigurirwa, Andrea Gordillo, Micah Rose

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    Art for social justice has long challenged notions of whose stories are told, how, and by whom, positioning it as a key body of practice to combat neoliberalism and other structures of domination. In the global struggle for liberation, art and social justice practices must be contextualized, requiring approaches and pedagogy that address the cultural landscapes in which they are rooted. Against this backdrop, the artivist-authors explore two questions: 1) In what ways do practices in the arts and social justice differ and intersect across cultural contexts? and 2) What lessons can be gleaned from grassroots and systems-level approaches to arts for social justice? Here, three vignettes, explored through Chicane testimonios and story circles rooted in Black and Indigenous theater practice, elucidate approaches to building creative justice in the landwaters colonized into Colombia, Rwanda, and the United States. Across these three vignettes, questions of practice and lessons learned emerge.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)308-322
    Number of pages15
    JournalThe Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2022

    Bibliographical note

    © 2022 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. CONTACT Marian Taylor Brown Arts Connect International & University of Massachusetts Boston, 15 Channel Center Street, Suite 103, Boston MA 02210, USA. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.


    • Art
    • Colombia
    • Rwanda
    • United States of America
    • cultural equity
    • grassroots
    • social justice
    • story circles
    • systems change
    • testimonios

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
    • Strategy and Management
    • Law


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