ILA Book Series

Grassroots Leadership and the Arts for Social Change


Editors: Susan J. Erenrich and Jon F. Wergin (Emerald Publishing, 2017)

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Throughout history artists have led grassroots movements of protest, resistance, and liberation. They created dangerously, sometimes becoming martyrs for the cause. Their efforts kindled a fire, aroused the imagination and rallied the troops culminating in real transformational change. Their art served as a form of dissent during times of war, social upheaval, and political unrest. Less dramatically perhaps, artists have also participated in demonstrations, benefit concerts, and have become philanthropists in support of their favorite causes. These artists have been overlooked or given too little attention in the literature on leadership, even though the consequences of their courageous crusades, quite often, resulted in censorship, “blacklisting,” imprisonment, and worse. This volume explores the intersection of grassroots leadership and the arts for social change by accentuating the many victories artists have won for humanity. History has shown that these imaginative movers and shakers are a force with which to be reckoned with. Through this volume, we hope readers will vicariously experience the work of these brave figures, reflect on their commitments and achievements, and continue to dream a better world full of possibility. Scroll down to View the Complete Table of Contents.

Praise for Grassroots Leadership and the Arts for Social Change

About the Co-Editors

Susan (Susie) J. Erenrich is a social movement history documentarian. She uses the arts for social change to tell stories about transformational leadership, resilience, and societal shifts as a result of mobilization efforts by ordinary citizens.  Currently a professor at American University, she is also the editor of Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: An Anthology of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement.

Jon F. Wergin is professor of educational studies in Antioch University’s Ph.D. in Leadership and Change. He has published numerous journal articles on such topics as professional education, assessment, and the restructuring of faculty work, including two articles in Change magazine on accreditation and student learning (2005).

Table of Contents

Foreword – Francisco Letelier
Foreword: September – Juan Gabriel Valdes
Preface – Susan J. Erenrich
Introduction One – Susan J. Erenrich

Section I: Grassroots Leadership and Cultural Activists Part 1: Performance Art 

Greg Chidi Obi gives a 2-minute preview of his chapter Fela Kuti: The Man, His Music, The Activist
  1. The Cellist of Sarajevo: Courage and Defiance Through Music as Inspirations for Social Change – Randal Joy Thompson and Edin Ibrahimefendic
  2. Fela Kuti: The Man, His Music, The Activist – Greg Chidi Obi
  3. Vaclav Havel, the Playwright-Dissident: Theater as a Seismograph for Social Change – Joshua M. Hayden
  4. Armand Gatti’s L’Inconnu N°5: Theater as a Catalyst for Resistance – Suzanne Epstein

Section II: Grassroots Leadership and Cultural Activists Part 2: Visual Art and Film

  1. Boniface Mwangi: Photo-Journalist/Social Activist – Nita Hungu and Marta D. Bennett
  2. Benevolent Subversion: Graffiti, Street Art, and the Emergence of the Anonymous Leader – James Jarc and Tricia Garwood
  3. Innovating Social Change through Grassroots Leadership Practices in the Arts – Anu M. Mitra
  4. Peter Young: The Filmmaker as Agent Provocateur – Margot Edwards and Ralph Bathurst

Section III: Grassroots Leadership, Participatory Democracy, and the Role of the Arts in Social Movements in the United States

  1. They Were All Leaders: The IWW and Songs for Revolution– Greg Artzner and Terry Leonino
  2. Women’s Music: The Mothership– Holly Near
  3. Acting Up and Fighting Back: How New York’s Artistic Community Responded to AIDS– David Edelman

Section IV: Theatre of the Oppressed as a Form of Grassroots Leadership

  1. Truth Comes in Many Colors: Theatre of the Oppressed for Conflict Transformation and Trauma Healing in Kenya– Mecca Antonia Burns, Bonface Njeresa Beti and Maxwel Eliakim Okuto
  2. Theater Research Methodology of a Split Society: Ukrainian Reality– Natalia Kostenko and Kateryna Tiahlo
  3. From Needs-Based to Asset-Based Community Development: The ABCD Method as an Effective Strategy for Engaging with Grassroots Leaders in South Africa– Kennedy C. Chinyowa, Mziwoxolo Sirayi and Selloane Mokuku

Section V: People Power, Community Building, and the Arts for Social Change

  1. Finding a Line From Fight Club to the Kennedy Center: How We Learned to Cross Invisible Bridges– Garth A. Ross
  2. Crafting Community and Change Through Books and Pads: The Tikondwe Teachers Project in Domasi, Malawi – Kevin Bottomley, Justin Snyder, Alinane Misomale, Denise Archuleta, David H. Davenport, Marsha Dwyer, Destenie Nock, Lucy Kapenuka, Chifundo Ziyaya, Ann Potts and Liz Barber
  3. The Shape of Water … Palestine, Badke and Lets Make Noise for Gaza: Three Journeys of Intercultural Choreographic Practice in Palestine – Nicholas Rowe, Noora Baker and Ata Khatab
  4. In Case of Emergency, Break Convention: Popular Education, Cultural Leadership and Public Museums– Darlene E. Clover

Epilogue – Jon F. Wergin
About the Authors

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