En/Acting Radical Change: Theories, Practices, Places and Politics of Creativity as Intervention

Mclean, Heather and deLeeuw, Sarah

Creative arts-based methods and methodologies are, of recent, seeing a (re)surgence in human geography. Much less explored by geographers, however, are creative arts-based methods and methodologies as agents of sociopolitical change or as modalities overlapping with the intensifying work of place-based engagements by critical, racialized, queer, feminist, anti-colonial, Indigenous, differently-abled and/or activists, artists, and scholars. This paper provides a broad historical overview of creativity and arts practice in geography. It then interrogates some of the shortcomings of current scholarship about creativity (in practice and theory) in the discipline. We draw from scholarship and front-line testimonies about arts in, to name a few, Indigenous-led interventions like Idle No More, in recent arts-based actions in support of asylum seekers, 2SLGBTQ or trans, feminist, and sex worker’s rights. We also offer critical geographic analysis focused on the potential and limitations of creativity for re-workings, for resistances, and for critical collaborations. We offer that critical analysis as a way to also understand creative practices as catalysts for forging affinities and alliances. By turning to critical and radical visual, performance, and literary artists working with and in-place to foster sociopolitical change, we conclude the chapter with discussions about what geographers might learn from artists and arts-engaged scholars about creativity as an intervention and agent of transformation.