ACM Research Themes

The Department of Arts, Culture and Media is committed to theoretical and practical explorations of images, objects, performance, sound and text. We examine the generation, dissemination, and reception of art and ideas from diverse cultural contexts and historical periods, with special emphasis on the modern and contemporary world. Our research and teaching adopts an interdisciplinary approach to cultural forms, extending from their political life to their emotional impact. As scholars, teachers, artists, arts managers, curators and social actors, we anchor our individual pursuits in shared inquiry using a wide range of critical and creative modes. From the research practices of our collective faculty members, four themes emerge:

Theme 1: Contemporary culture in flux
• Transnational production and circulation of cultural artifacts and enactments
• Local and indigenous cultural production in the context of globalization

We analyze how contemporary culture is rooted in place while also enacted through its circulation and hybridity in a highly globalized world. Our research encompasses multiple regions and diasporas, including East Asia, South-East Asia, Africa, Western and Eastern Europe, Canada and the United States. We examine how practices once defined by local and national conditions are now shaped by forces extending across cultures. Our work considers global collisions and convergences in diverse areas such as alternative modernisms and globalizations in art, the legacies of Cold War geopolitics, and local media cultures.

Theme 2: Cultural history, theory and ethics
• Cultural policy and analysis for social justice
• Historical research and its reformulations

We conceptualize and re-examine cultural forms in relation to wider modes of thought. Our research theorizes the role of art, culture and technology in identity formation, in social movements for diversity and equity and in shaping cultural policy and organizations for rapidly shifting societies. We study cultures in historical context and through their iterations, resonances and remediations down through the centuries.

Theme 3: (Re)making art and culture
• The power of imagination and creation
• Empowerment through collaboration and digital technologies

We are critical producers of art and culture. Our research embraces the social and political force of imagination, poetics, humour, and the everyday. Our work defines emerging technological paradigms and examines contemporary models of access, sharing, activism, and public engagement. We make new culture and critical interventions pertaining to: community and applied arts practices, pedagogy, critical journalism, the composition and performance of music and sound, theatre and performance, contemporary visual and media-arts practice, and administrative, artistic and curatorial leadership of cultural organizations.

Theme 4: Media, institutions and the politics of participation
• The political economy of media and communication
• The role of technology in knowledge formation, agency, and critiques of capitalism

Our investigation into media power at a variety of sites and scales seeks to uncover the relationships between institutions, technology, and media practices. We apply a political economy lens to the policies of organizations and industries in national media cultures and comparative contexts. We trace patterns of political engagement, social disruption, and fragmentation within media cultures. Our examination of digitization—across interfaces, infrastructures, and cultural objects—contributes to the critical study of new knowledge environments) and new visual cultures alongside investigations of commoditization, control and surveillance within digital spaces.