Street Art 1920 x 830


Pigment and Power: seeing Latin America through street art

Hosted by the Latin America and Caribbean Centre (LACC)

Fawcett House (TW2), 9.05


Dr Alexander Araya López

Dr Alexander Araya López

Department of Linguistics and Comparative Cultural Studies, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice

Prof Olivier Dabène

Prof Olivier Dabène

Professor of Political Science at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po)

Alba Griffin

School of Modern Languages, Newcastle University

Dr Caroline Hodges

Dr Caroline Hodges

Principal Academic in Communication and Media at Bournemouth University

Dr Holly Eva Ryan

Dr Holly Eva Ryan

Lecturer in Politics and International Political Sociology at Queen Mary University of London


Dr Chandra Morrison

Dr Chandra Morrison

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, Latin America and Caribbean Centre, LSE

From graffiti to political street art, chicha posters to pixação, ephemeral cultural productions inundate cityscapes across Latin America. Yet these markings add more than colour to urban life: they inspire the city’s inhabitants to see and to think about their surroundings differently.

This afternoon symposium brings together six scholars working in this emerging field to ask how the creative expressions of street art challenge and expand the way we make sense of Latin American cities. Drawing on diverse disciplinary backgrounds, the papers consider how the materials, aesthetics, and practices of these urban arts, as well as public discourses about them, illuminate dynamics of social relations and cultural politics in contemporary Latin America.

Panel I:

Olivier Dabène                 
Signs of Democracy: Street Art in Latin America
Holly Ryan                          
Researching Political Street Art: Choices and Challenges
Alba Griffin                         
Imaginaries of Violence in Bogota’s Urban Visual Landscape

Panel II:

Caroline Hodges                 
No Se Gana Pero Se Goza’: A Story of the Cultural Revival of Sign-Painting in Lima, Peru
Chandra Morrison               
Graffiti Removal and Urban Renewal: The Cultural Politics of Erasure in Santiago de Chile
Alexander Araya López       
Between crime and art: Contesting narratives about the Brazilian pixação


Dr Alexander Araya López (@alxaraya ) is a Costa Rican sociologist. He is currently a Marie Curie Fellow 2018-2020 at Ca’ Foscari, University of Venezia. His current research project RIGHTS UP focuses on the media discourses about the anti-tourism movements in Venezia, Amsterdam and Barcelona (as per Grant Agreement n. 792489), as part of the theoretical reflection on the concept of the 'right to the city'. He obtained his Ph.D. at the Freie Universität Berlin, Lateinamerika Institut in 2014, with a research on media discourses about graffiti practices in Brazil and Costa Rica. He studied Sociology at the Universidad de Costa Rica. His research interests are studies about criminality and security, cities and urban spaces, public protest and radical politics, dissent and social movements.

Prof Olivier Dabène (@CERI_SciencesPo) is Professor of Political Science at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) and senior researcher at the Center for International Studies (CERI, Sciences Po). He is also the President of the Political Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean ( and visiting professor in many Latin American universities. His latest books include: The Politics of Regional Integration in Latin America (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), La gauche en Amérique latine, 1998-2012 (Presses de Sciences Po, 2012) and Summits and Regional Governance: The Americas in Comparative Perspective (with Gordon Mace, Jean-Philippe Terrien and Diana Tussie, Routledge, 2016). 

Alba Griffin (@agriffbag ‏) is an ESRC-funded PhD candidate in the School of Modern Languages at Newcastle University. Her research explores urban imaginaries of violence in Bogotá, Colombia, through graffiti and street art. In particular, she analyses the production and reception of the different forms of graffiti and street art in the city, and how they speak to the politics of different ways of seeing violences. 

Dr Caroline Hodges (@bournemouthuni) is Principal Academic in Communication and Media at Bournemouth University and an independent intercultural trainer. She has published widely on both cross-cultural matters and diversity and representation in the media. Studying Latin America for more than 15 years, she is currently preparing a monograph on the cultural representations and commodification of popular graphics and sign-painting in Lima, Peru. 

Dr Chandra Morrison (@drchanmor) is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Latin America and Caribbean Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). An urban ethnographer, her research examines graffiti art and its relation to transformations of public life and urban space in South American cities. Her current project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, looks at new muralism and the politics of erasure in Lima, Peru. 

Dr Holly Eva Ryan (@HollyERyan) is a Lecturer in Politics and International Political Sociology at Queen Mary University of London. Her research sits at the intersections of world politics, social movement studies, and art/aesthetics. Her recently published book ‘Political Street Art: Communication, Culture and Resistance in Latin America’ examines the evolving relationship between street art and political claim-making in Bolivia, Brazil, and Argentina. Although she maintains a strong interest in all things street art, Dr. Ryan is currently working on an ESRC New Investigator project exploring international friendship, solidarity, and twinning practice. 


This event is organized by Dr Chandra Morrison, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, with the generous support of the Leverhulme Trust.

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