Keynote – Paula Serafini

Researching performance and collective action: some insights for extractive times

This talk will reflect on research conducted on performance and activism in the UK and in Argentina since 2010. Specifically, I will discuss work on performance action in the UK in the post-2008 context, and more recent research on art and performance in the resistance to extractivism in Argentina.
In the first instance, I will present the theoretical proposals emerging from my early research looking at the politics of art activism, namely, the way in which aesthetic and political objectives are negotiated in performance-based activist practices. Following this, I will discuss how this framework gave place to further work conducted in the Argentine context. Here, researching art and performance in resistance to extractivism gave place not only to further theoretical proposals on the politics of such practices and their sociopolitical function, but importantly, it facilitated new perspectives on the politics, contribution and challenges of research in and on contemporary social movements and socioenvironmental conflicts.

Dr Paula Serafini
Queen Mary University of London

Paula Serafini holds a PhD in Social and Cultural Analysis from King’s College London and a MA in Anthropology and Cultural Politics from Goldsmiths. She situates her work in the field of cultural politics and is interested in the processes behind aesthetic-political practices. She has been involved in the production of cultural events in London and Buenos Aires, having worked as a curator and art educator.

In her research on the relationship between aesthetics and politics, she includes art activism, the aesthetics of social movement and protest, and the politics of both institutional and informal creative practices and creative labour. She is currently working on the cultural politics of extraction and the role of art “in generating alternatives to extractivist development”.

In 2014, she co-founded the research network PLANK (Politically Led Art & Networked Knowledge), a network that aims to create bridges between disciplines, and between theory and practice in the field of art and politics.

© Paula Serafini


  • Merlinsky, Gabriela and Serafini, Paula (eds)(2020) Arte y Ecología Política. Buenos Aires: IIGG-CLACSO.
  • Serafini, Paula & Novosel, Noelia (2020) Culture as care: Argentina’s cultural policy response to Covid-19. Cultural Trends. 10.1080/09548963.2020.1823821
  • Serafini, Paula (2020) ‘A rapist in your path’: Transnational feminist protest and why (and how) performance matters. European Journal of Cultural Studies 23(2), 290–295.
  • Serafini, Paula & Banks, Mark (2020) Living Precarious Lives? Time and Temporality in Visual Arts Careers. Culture Unbound 12(2): 351-372.
  • Serafini, Paula (2019) Community Radio as a Space of Care: An Ecofeminist Perspective on Media Production in Environmental Conflicts. International Journal of Communication 13: 1-18
  • Newsinger, Jack & Serafini, Paula (2019) Performative Resilience: How the Arts and Culture Support Austerity in Post-Crisis Capitalism. European Journal of Cultural Studies.
  • Merlinsky, Gabriela & Serafini, Paula (2019) Arte y resistencias al extractivismo en Argentina. Lenguajes para defender y reinventar lo común. Ecología Política 57: 81-85.
  • Serafini, Paula (2018)Performance Action: The Politics of Art Activism. London: Routledge.
  • Serafini, Paula; Holtaway, Jessica and Cossu, Alberto (eds) (2017) artWORK: Art, Labour and Activism. London: Rowman and Littlefield International, 2017.