Democratic renovations and affective political imaginaries

Sitas, R., & Pieterse, E. (2013). Democratic Renovations and Affective Political Imaginaries. Third Text, 27(3), 327–342. doi:10.1080/09528822.2013.798183

Cape Town
Publication type
Scientific article (peer-reviewed)
Contributing to Urban Debates in South Africa
DOI Title
Democratic Renovations and Affective Political Imaginaries
Third Text
0952-8822 1475-5297
Rike Sitas Edgar Pieterse
Published year
Cultural Studies Visual Arts and Performing Arts
Rike Sitas Edgar Pieterse Two Thousand and Ten Reasons to Live in a Small Town public art transgressive aesthetics White Paper on Local Government Phillip Harrison William Connolly Paulo Freire Maxine Greene South African Astronomical Observatory



Both the state and radical civil actors tend to perceive and define ordinary citizens in circumscribed ways; as rational actors who need to be persuaded through rational argument about why their participation is necessary for the democratic functioning of society. The assumption is that once people have been exposed to compelling arguments and incentives, they will activate their engagement with politics. Despite South Africa's embracing of participatory democracy, a chasm has emerged between policy ambitions and democratic practices. It is against this backdrop that the authors explore more closely how citizenship and political enrolment can be forged despite the stultifying political cultures that presently predominate. Using examples from the Two Thousand and Ten Reasons to Live in a Small Town public art project, this article looks at the potential of inclusionary public art practices as a means to inspire new affective forms of political enrolment. We argue that through transgressive aesthetics, public art can enable an experimental politics that has important implications for transformation, especially for future citizens.

Related publications