InTensions: Fun and Games –  Playing to the Limits | Issue 7.0, Spring/Summer 2014


Call for Papers/Art

Issues of the journal are theme-based, but space is provided in each issue for articles, reviews, and artwork that engage the core interests of InTensions: the theatricality of power, corporealities of structural violence, and sensory regimes.


Tactics and dissonance: bending social relations towards justice, through art

Editors: Christina Sinding and Elysée Nouvet (McMaster University) in collaboration with
A.C.C.E.S.S. (Arts-Centered, Community-Engaged, Social Sciences Research Consortium)


This special issue of InTensions begins from the claim that the arts (or specific art forms, or artworks) have a particular capacity to facilitate just and ethical social relations. Such claims typically rest on ideas about identification - that art enables us to imagine our way into, and also to feel, something of another person’s life, and that this experience is a basis for ethical engagement across social difference. This potential of art has been advocated as particularly valuable where it enables new affects and understandings between dominant social groups and subjects, experiences, or knowledges that historically have been marginalized, denigrated, silenced, or oppressed.

Critics call this view into question along many lines: engagement with art about ‘others’ may indeed generate empathy, but it is an empathy often naive and apolitical (Emmons 2011; Sontag 2003), a feeling for an individual, isolated from historical context, and without social obligation (Boler 1997). The idea that art or artists have some inherently ethical or justice-leaning impulse is repeatedly contradicted by the historical record (Belfiore & Bennett, 2007). In disability studies, for example, rather than enabling “diverse ways of sensing, moving through, or otherwise being in and relating to the world,” art sometimes aims to reconstitute or transcend “broken” bodies and minds (Ignagni & Church 2008, p. 628).

This special issue considers expectations, rationales, tensions, and risks embedded in efforts to use the arts to foster more just social relationships. We invite submissions of art works that explore this theme, as well as scholarly articles that:

For further information or to submit, please email Christina Sinding ( or Elysée Nouvet (


Deadline for submissions: March 15, 2016.


Belfiore, E., & Bennett, O. (2007). Rethinking the social impacts of the arts. International journal of cultural policy, 13(2), 135-151.

Boler, M. (1997). The risks of empathy: Interrogating multiculturalism's gaze. Cultural Studies, 11(2), 253 - 273. Boler 1997

Emmons, K. (2011). Whose Stories: Narrative Medicine or Rhetorical Self-Care? Paper presented at the Society for Social Studies of Science Annual Meeting Cleveland, OH.

Ignani, E., & Church, K. (2008). Disability Studies and the Ties and Tensions with Arts-Informed Inquiry: One More Reason to Look Away? In J. G. Knowles & A. Cole (Eds.), Handbook of the arts in qualitative research: Perspectives, methodologies, examples and issues (pp. 625–638). Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Sontag S. 2003. Regarding the Pain of Others. New York: Picador.


Style and submission guidelines can be accessed and downloaded at