Art and Social Justice

ICGC is committed to the work of scholars and artists who are bridging understanding of social justice and global change through artistic mediums.

Below is an overview of ICGC's recent and current involvement with art and social justice related events, collaborations, and people. We host a variety of arts and public humanities events each year including film screenings and filmmaker dialogues, writing workshops, artists talks, and scholarly research on the arts.  

View past ICGC Arts and Social Justice events » 

2023 Events with the Centre for Humanities Research

Itumeleng Wa Lehulere, the Convener of the Factory of the Arts at the University of the Western Cape’s Centre for Humanities Research, was in residence with ICGC August-September 2023. Click here to view the recording of his presentation on September 8, 2023 in the ICGC Colloquium Series. 

Itumeleng Wa Lehulere presenting in the ICGC Colloquium Series, September 2023.

Itumeleng’s life in the arts and political fraternities spans over thirty years, beginning as an activist in apartheid South Africa. He played a significant role in the formation of the Congress of South African Students (COSAS in the Western Cape).  Wa Lehulere has had a prominent imprint on the performing arts working as a performer, musician, writer and director in both film and television. He also contributed to the Community Arts Project, a community art centre which played a crucial part in Cape Town’s cultural life. Wa Lehulere spent 12 years as the Director of the Ikhwezi Annual Theatre Festival which was done in association with the Baxter Theatre Center at the University of Cape Town.

Itumeleng's visit was through ICGC's collaborative in graduate education and faculty research with the University of the Western Cape. Click here to learn more about the partnership, made possible by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 


On March 31, 2023, Professor Premesh Lalu (University of Western Cape) presented his recent book, Undoing Apartheid, in conversation with ICGC faculty affiliate Nancy Luxon (Political Science). In preparation for this conversation, participants read selected chapters of the book. 

Premesh Lalu addressing attendees of his film screening, March 2023.

Prior to the conversation, ICGC screened Lalu's film The Double Futures of Athlone (2022) on the cultural history of Athlone, one of the sites of apartheid's forced removals. Following both events was a public reception and a chance to converse with the community.

Collaboration with the Weisman Art Museum in 2020

The Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change collaborated with the Weisman Art Museum and the Minnesota Design Center to host Iraqi-born artist Wafaa Bilal, internationally known for his provoking dialogue about international politics and internal dynamics through high profile, technologically-driven projects that employ the use of robotics, the internet, and photographic mobile mapping. Bilal's visit was scheduled for January 22–24, 2020. University of Minnesota faculty, staff, and students collaborated with Bilal to help reimagine the once-besieged library of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Baghdad. More details at: Call for Collaboration: Library as Social Structure.

South Africa-Minnesota Artist Exchange 

Ncedile Daki and Luyanda Nogodlwana at the Mayday Parade in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as guests of the ICGC at the University of Minnesota.
Ncedile Daki and Luyanda Nogodlwana at the Mayday Parade in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as guests of the ICGC at the University of Minnesota. (Photo via the Center for Humanities Research)

ICGC, in collaboration with partners at the Centre for Humanities Research of the University of the Western Cape, has developed an initiative focused on convening artists and scholars from Minnesota and Cape Town around key themes of interest at our centers. Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the collaboration is designed to bring artists, scholars, and students together around questions of arts and social change. The collaboration includes promoting the puppetry arts through the Handspring Puppet Company and the Ukwanda Puppets & Designs Art Collective from Cape Town, and In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre from Minneapolis.  

The collaboration includes several exchanges, the first of which included hosting two puppet artists from Cape Town, Ncedile Daki and Luyanda Nogodlwana from the Ukwanda Collective, in residence at ICGC and HOBT during April-May 2016.  

They built a large heron puppet that was featured in the MayDay parade and ceremony. In April-May 2018, puppet artists Siphokazi Mpofu and Sipho Ngxola from the Ukwanda Collective built a Black Panther puppet for the MayDay festival while in residence at ICGC.  

The CHR also welcomed Sandy Spieler, the Artistic Director of HOBT, to the 2016 ICGC-CHR Winter School held in Cape Town. Sandy had the opportunity to visit the Handspring Puppet Company and the Ukwanda Collective at that time. Sandy has also contributed to ICGC’s International WaTERS Network, extending an artistic perspective on water access and justice. In 2018, UMN faculty members Michal Kobialka (Theatre Arts) and Diyah Larasati (Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies) attended the ICGC-CHR Winter School and gave presentations on their current work. 

ICGC Past Artist in Residence (2018-19) 

Patricia Giselia Batista (Pagi)

As a part of ICGC's ongoing collaboration with the Center for Afro-Brazilian Studies at the Federal University of Uberlandia (Brazil), we welcomed visiting doctoral fellow Patricia Giselia Batista (Pagi) during the 2018-19 academic year.

In addition to her research on the body, performance art, and feminist ant-racial stereotypes, she is the author of two books of poetry: "There is a flower in my shoe" (2012) and "I hummingbird or I deflower you" (2015), as well as other poems published in anthologies. She received honorable mention at the 29th National Poetry Salon Psiu Poetico in Brazil.