Academic journal article Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy

Aesthetic Communities, Peripheral Identities and Social Movements

Academic journal article Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy

Aesthetic Communities, Peripheral Identities and Social Movements

Article excerpt

The concept of resistance, often accompanied by a qualifier, refers to multiple realities. One can talk of armed resistance, passive resistance, political resistance and social resistance. However, making such distinctions should not make us forget that the effectiveness of resistance depends on a combination of activities of different but complementary natures. While each of them is worth considering, the cultural dimension calls for special attention. Indeed, we work on the assumption that the latter is not only present in all forms of resistance, but is an essential, integral part of it. In other words, whatever its form, a resistance movement necessarily includes cultural resistance. It is enough to remember that art and culture have always been the ultimate bulwark against injustice, oppression and barbarism. The particularity of cultural mediations resides in their ability to touch the innermost subjectivity and individuality of the human being.

Culture is the location of those elements of civilization that allow for the emergence of collective and individual identities. Culture encompasses not only the formation of individuality through a conscious appropriation of values, but also the formation of ethnic, linguistic, social and political structures. The cultural factor is therefore significant, especially if we consider that the submission of a human group can be obtained, to some extent, by the neutralization of its culture. Conversely, the processes of emancipation of oppressed societies are intrinsically linked to the vitality of their cultural practices. Indeed, it can be reasonably assumed that most major political events, be they social movements, revolutions, or the birth of nation-states, could hardly have occurred had they not been preceded by intense activity in the literary-aesthetic sphere. (1)

A closer look at the social and geopolitical tensions facing the contemporary world reveals that many of them stem from the fact that most nation-states are home to several so-called peripheral identities with very diverse political statuses. From the indigenous peoples of Chiapas to the Scots, from the Sahrawi to the Kurds, such communities suffer, at times tragically, from the lack of recognition of some of their rights. As a result, for some groups within these communities their inherited identity becomes an object of social contempt, and they lose the ability to respect themselves as a community. (2) Recent works have shown that the discrediting of a peripheral identity by a dominant culture is accompanied by a weakened sense of identity among the members of the minority group. Representatives of the multiculturalist current maintain that this issue should be urgently given priority by our democratic systems. (3) This lack of recognition, seen as oppression by the minority group, is regularly--but not often enough--denounced in public. Public space thereby becomes the scene of political and cultural mediations. These mediations allow the individual to adopt a position of resistance and in doing so, to step out of crippling passive humiliation. At the same time, the individual enters into a new, positive relationship with him or herself, a relationship which is essential to the development of any societal project. As lucid witnesses of the suffering of their fellow human beings, artists and intellectuals are expected to play an essential role in these processes of resistance. The publicising of aesthetic and literary works, and the subsequent visibility of their authors, renders difficult any passivity on the authors' part. As a result of this, they become authors of their own political involvement. (4)

This introduction intends to outline the context of a reflection on the resistance movement in the cultural field of an autonomous community of the Spanish state. His analysis will focus on the specific case of the aesthetic movement 'Bravu' in Galicia during the 1990s, and it will raise many questions about the relationship between art, socialization, identity, ideology and other topics. …

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