Doing Democracy

Activist Art and Cultural Politics

Edited by Nancy S. Love & Mark Mattern

Subjects: Art, Art Theory, Political Theory, Political Science, Political Communication
Series: SUNY series, Praxis: Theory in Action
Paperback : 9781438449104, 396 pages, July 2014
Hardcover : 9781438449111, 396 pages, December 2013

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

Part I. Introduction
1. Introduction: Art, Culture, Democracy
Nancy S. Love and Mark Mattern
Part II. Photography and Cartoons
2. Photo-Activism in the Digital Age: Visions from Rio de Janeiro
Frank Möller
3. Framing the Obama Political Cartoons: Injury or Democracy?
Sushmita Chatterjee
Part III. Monuments and Memorials
4. The Moral Economy: “Doing Democracy” via Public Day of the Dead Rituals
Regina Marchi
5. The National D-Day Memorial: An American Military Monument as “Doing Democracy”
Timothy W. Luke
Part IV. Literature and Poetry
6. The Message in the Medium: Poetry Slam as Democratic Practice
Mark Mattern
7. Tragedy and Democracy: The Fate of Liberal Democratic Values in a Violent World
Wairimu Njoya
Part V. Music
8. “You’re an American rapper, so what do you know?”: The Political Uses of British and U. S. Popular Culture by First-Time Voters in the United Kingdom
Sanna Inthorn and John Street
9. Playing with Hate: White Power Music and the Undoing of Democracy
Nancy S. Love
Part VI. Theater
10. Betrayed by Democracy: Verbatim Theater as Prefigurative Politics
Mark Chou and Roland Bleiker
11. Political Actors: Performance as Democratic Protest in Anti-Apartheid Theater
Emily Beausoleil
Part VII. Festival and Spectacle
12. Art in the House: Cultural Democracy in a Neighborhood
Bruce Baum
13. Democracy despite Government: African American Parading and Democratic Theory
Peter G. Stillman and Adelaide H. Villmoare
Part VIII. Conclusion
14. Conclusion: Activist Arts, Community Development, and Democracy
Mark Mattern and Nancy S. Love

Demonstrates how activists and others use art and popular culture to strive for a more democratic future.


Doing Democracy examines the potential of the arts and popular culture to extend and deepen the experience of democracy. Its contributors address the use of photography, cartooning, memorials, monuments, poetry, literature, music, theater, festivals, and parades to open political spaces, awaken critical consciousness, engage marginalized groups in political activism, and create new, more democratic societies. This volume demonstrates how ordinary people use the creative and visionary capacity of the arts and popular culture to shape alternative futures. It is unique in its insistence that democratic theorists and activists should acknowledge and employ affective as well as rational faculties in the ongoing struggle for democracy.

Nancy S. Love is Professor of Government and Justice Studies at Appalachian State University. She is the author of several books, including Musical Democracy, also published by SUNY Press. Mark Mattern is Professor of Political Science at Baldwin Wallace University and the author of Putting Ideas to Work: A Practical Introduction to Political Thought and Acting in Concert: Music, Community, and Political Action.


"Nancy S. Love and Mark Mattern have collected a first-rate set of studies that illuminate the intersection between art and politics in the contemporary era. The text demonstrates how activist art and cultural politics can promote democratic politics and how democracy is enriched and enlivened by activist art projects. This book should interest everyone concerned with the fate of art and democracy in the contemporary era and how they can help nourish each other. " — Douglas Kellner, author of Media Spectacle and Insurrection, 2011: From the Arab Uprisings to Occupy Everywhere