Azamba publics: containment, care and curating in the “expanded private sphere”

Mpondaa, Victoria and Graham, Janna. 2022. Azamba publics: containment, care and curating in the “expanded private sphere”. Journal of Aesthetics & Culture, 14(1), 2063704. ISSN 2000-4214 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The lack of space, movement and even breath afforded to many communities cuts across seemingly mobile life trajectories, constraining and constricting even (and often especially) the movement of people across and within transnational borders. How do arts organisations and projects explicitly work against the violence of these forms of constraint? Where liberal models of the public sphere have underpinned many ideas of art in public space—particularly those based in the notions of appearance and the “general” public—it is from situated praxes originating from what Stahl and Stoecker have described as the “expanded private sphere” that poignant lessons can be learned of a community and curatorial practice dedicated to solidarity and support. In this paper, we elaborate a notion of art in public that refuses a division from the “private”, without straying unproblematically into the terrain of the personal or exploitative economies of care. We draw from our collaborative experiences in using creative strategies for countering the narrative containment of refugee groups in the face of UK media racism through the project Conflict, Memory, Displacement as well as the limitations we encountered. Using the concept of Azamba—a Malawan practice of community care and midwifery recently adopted by the women’s group Global Sistaz United in Nottingham, UK—we further elaborate how practices and narrations of care and community support might reconfigure our relation to ideas of art, curating and publics.

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Additional Information:

Elements of this work have been funded by AHRC PACCS through the project Conflict, Memory, Displacement and refer to Global Sistaz United, with both authors are involved in ongoing organizing work.


Care; migration; curating; public sphere; private sphere

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


1 June 2022Published
5 April 2022Accepted
5 May 2021Submitted

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Date Deposited:

04 Jul 2022 09:44

Last Modified:

04 Jul 2022 09:44

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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