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Who are ‘we’ in a moving world? A focus on citizenship today

Image of Union Jack
Mashing up the Union Jack. Artwork 'The New Union Flag'. Gil Mualem-Doron. CC-BY-2.0
27 November 2017

Look in today’s media, and you would be hard-pushed to miss stories touching on borders, citizenship and migration. In a world where increased polarisation is leading to the rise of xenophobia and solidarity activism (think the impact of the EU Referendum and the independence vote in Catalonia, as just two examples), increasingly we need to find a space to ask who we are and how we know who we are.

As part of a Tate Exchange Programme, and in partnership with openDemocracy, Counterpoints Arts, Loughborough and Warwick universities, The Open University is examining current issues of citizenship and identity. Dr Sara de Jong and Dr Giota Alevizou, Research Fellows are leading on the openDemocracy feature as part of a wider team at The Open University, including Dr Umut Erel, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, and Dr Agnes Czajka, Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Studies. The feature, entitled, ‘Who are ‘we’ in a moving world?’ focuses on whether art and digital communication can create new ways to talk about belonging, exclusion and responsibility. A wealth of insightful articles, videos and multimedia resources can be found at openDemocracy.

Dr Sara de Jong said: “We are living in a time of significant social upheaval and transience, and this has huge impacts on our identities and how we ‘see’ and respond to others. This is a really exciting collaboration, in which we are looking not only in a traditional academic way at what these changes mean for how we define ourselves, but in partnership with Counterpoints Arts we are able to bring together artists, academics and audiences to bring this work to life and consider what it really means for our multimedia world and citizens today.”

Dr Giota Alevizou said: “This has been an exciting collaboration between artists, academics and activists. We aimed at raising the bar when considering role of galleries in socially engaged art and the engagement of wider publics, not just by making 'things visible', but by putting forward our collective responsibility to act upon these pressing issues of our times. Our special feature  with openDemocracy acts as a bridge between the first year of our work with Tate Exchange and the planning of the second.”

The feature was developed by Dr de Jong and Dr Alevizou following a week of events earlier this year at the Tate Modern museum, titled ‘Who are we?’.  The collaborative programme will continue for a second year with a follow-up week-long event planned for May 2018.

Articles, videos and other multimedia content focusing on ‘Who are we in a moving world?’ – and updates on the 2018 event – can be found on the openDemocracy website. You can also follow the programme on Twitter through the #whoarewe2017 and openDemocracy

Image: The New Union Flag. Gil Mualem-Doron. CC-BY-2.0. Used in the feature ‘Mashing up the Union Jack’ by Dr Giota Alevizou on openDemocracy.

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