CFP: Dust, Scratch and Paint: Street Art in the Global South

Cynthia Gabbay's picture
Call for Publications
June 15, 2021
Subject Fields: 
African History / Studies, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Popular Culture Studies, Urban History / Studies

To walk through any major urban metropolis in Africa or Latin America is to be confronted with a wall of colour. Graffiti tags, street art pieces, stickers, fanzines, and stencil murals abound and add personality to city streets and undergrounds. Yet those behind such cultural expression remain largely (and traditionally) anonymous and the validity and meaning of their work is debatable. Moreover, the history of street art as a form is one that resists easy, linear narratives; its future is increasingly one of experimentation.


The Global South has a history of its own: colonial powers and dictatorships painfully inscribed their genetics in the social body. In counterpart, insurgencies, revolutions, and cultural resistance turned to be the abc of political and cultural change. Decolonial and postcolonial narratives grew in the intersection with new syncretic socio-cultural and economic practices. They left and leave their imprints on street corners, bridges, skyscrapers, and asphalt.


Dust, Scratch and Paint: Street Art in the Global South picks up the numerous lacunae around these topics. We, therefore, invite proposals for papers to be published in an edited volume that seeks to document the history of street art, comment on its methodology, and engage with its future direction. Issues to engage with include, but are not limited to:


  • The changing methods of graffiti writing;
  • New forms of experimentation (dust, scratch, minimalism, fragmentation, etc);
  • The relationship between image, topography, and language.
  • Street art’s relationship to political expression;
  • Individual, twosome, and collective street art engagements;
  • The relationship between graffiti and urban planning;
  • Street art movements and counter-cultures;
  • The relationship between street art, propaganda, and advertisement;
  • The relationship between graffiti and other art forms, including performance art;
  • International collaborations and festivals;
  • The dialects between formalised art and the informal practice of graffiti.
  • The role of gender, race, and generational turns.


The collection adopts a broad temporal frame in order to do justice to street art’s multidirectional trajectory. Papers touching upon any location within the Global South are welcome but we are particularly keen for contributions that speak to South Africa and the Southern Cone. Comparative perspectives are encouraged. We also hope to establish a conversation between cultural scholars, graffiti artists, and urban geographers.


Abstracts should be written in English and about 300-400 words. Please include also a biography of the author(s). They should be sent, along with five keywords, to Tom Penfold ( and Cynthia Gabbay ( The deadline for abstracts is 15 June 2021.


Completed submissions should be no longer than 8000 words. Black and white street art pictures might be included. They will be required by 1st December 2021.


The editors:

Cynthia Gabbay (Centre/Zentrum Marc Bloch Berlin)

Tom Penfold (University of Johannesburg)

Contact Info: 

Cynthia Gabbay, Centre Marc Bloch Berlin

Tom Penfold, University of Johannesburg