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The health and safety of the fine arts: Austerity, politeness and litigation culture

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By looking at an episode of censorship of a student’s artwork dealing with explicit visualizations and naming of sex, this article discusses the relationship between austerity measures and the spread of litigation culture in current academic life. My aim is not to defend the artwork, but to understand how the institutional ‘straight mind’, operating for the health of public morality, may become a threat to the safety of art teaching in times of austerity. Jacques Rancière’s elaborations on the stultification of contemporary culture provide a theoretical framework to show how litigation culture is an effect of austerity measures, which, by pre-empting any space for intellectual disagreement, may erode the relationship between education and citizenship.

Keywords: art education; austerity; feminist critique; health and safety; litigation culture; visual culture

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Leeds

Publication date: 2012-11-16

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  • The Journal of European Popular Culture investigates the creative cultures of Europe, present and past. Exploring European popular imagery, media, new media, film, music, art and design, architecture, drama and dance, fine art, literature and the writing arts, and more, the journal is also of interest to those considering the influence of European creativity and European creative artefacts worldwide.
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