Truth Claims, Activism and Cultural Practice

Organisers: Paul Gready, Centre for Applied Human Rights, and David Hickman, TFTI

This strand draws on academic and practitioner specialisms in human rights, social justice, documentary filmmaking, creative writing, museum curating and theatre. It aims to identify common ground among the different and diffuse ways in which truth claims are made during investigative and artistic interventions in the public sphere. 

The overarching research questions are: what can we say about how truth claims are constructed across different kinds of public discourse (a political documentary, say, or a human rights report about a massacre, or a novel set in a recent civil war, or a curated human rights exhibition in a museum, or a verbatim play)?  What connections can be drawn between these varied forms of truth claim, across different ‘media’?   And how does the construction of truth claims influence their reception in the public sphere?

 The project is particularly interested in:  

  • understanding how truth-claims are changing or are augmented by the growth of social media and other technologies;
  • identifying ‘regimes’ of truth in human rights, documentary, health, etc.;
  • looking at how fictional truth claims (in films, for example) address issues that are politically controversial;
  • examining the historical emergence of truth claims, and how those histories continue to be inscribed in those truth claims;
  • asking whether a ‘formal’ ethics may be articulated from truth-claim constructions;
  •  researching the reception of truth claims in the public sphere.

Forthcoming meetings:

Friday 4 November 2016, Treehouse, Humanities Research Centre, York. This one-day workshop will bring together academics from York and other universities, and a range of practitioners. The aim is to refine the research questions and outputs of the project in preparation for major grant applications.

If you are interested in attending, please contact david.hickman@york.ac.uk