Social Location, Mobilization and Globalization: The Role of Art in Creating Social Change in Hamilton, Ontario

By Renée Simone Wetselaar.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper examines the intersectionality between social location, community mobilization and art within the context of globalization in Hamilton, Ontario, and the current oppression that exists in the cultural landscape. This oppression comes from a history of valuing Westernized art, Eurocentrism and a closed funding system that does not recognize the changing face of the community. Hamilton has a growing arts community, but the arts are embedded with colonialism, Eurocentrism, Western ideology, and patriarchy. I interviewed seven participants who live, work, and create art in Hamilton so that I could understand what barriers they face within the context of globalization. Specifically, this paper explores the relationship between social location, power and the arts, public memory, and heritage within the context of globalization. It also looks at the role of art in creating social change. For many artists and cultural producers, art making is driven by
their own sense of identity, or serves as a way to understand the broader human experience. Many participants in this study felt that their work and experiences are at times essentialized and commodified in festivals, brought out for special projects, and interpreted through a colonized lens. I found that understanding the barriers to full participation in the arts and the
frustrations faced by those who are not part of the mainstream can help us understand why these barriers exist. This paper also examines how understanding one’s social location, engaging in social change, and engaging in community and labourbased art can help us understand and accept one another as equal actors on the global stage.

Keywords: Community, Labour, Arts, Heritage, Identity, Globalization, Social Change, Solidarity, Hamilton, Ontario

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp.79-88. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 837.635KB).

Renée Simone Wetselaar

Executive Director, McMaster University & Workers Arts and Heritage Centre, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Hired as the Program Director for the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre in 1995, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, Renee was subsequently named Executive Director in 2000. In those roles she has curated exhibits, managed community arts projects, advocated for cultural workers and managed the operations of the Centre. Her work often focuses on the inclusion of diverse and marginalized communities in framing their stories of struggle and oppression. In 2002 she won the Queens Golden Jubilee Medal for Community Service and was named Woman of the Year in the Arts by the Hamilton Status of Women Committee for 2004. Also working as a consultant in Strategic Planning and Community Development, Renee has assisted organizations to define their strategic goals and objectives. Through these other efforts, she tries to build understanding and create pathways for systemic changes to end racist practices at an organizational level. In 2007 she graduated with her Masters in Globalization and the Human Condition from McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario.


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