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Diversity as ‘lived’ work: emotions and space

This is the third of four reflections on the CIRCE x UNESCO: World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development event which took place on May 23rd at City, University of London. Si Long Chan reflects on diversity as 'lived' work in the Creative Industries.

Published onJun 08, 2023
Diversity as ‘lived’ work: emotions and space

Travelling through various scales of dialogues over Cultural Diversity, from international policy making to community interventions and artist perspectives, our launch event sought to demonstrate diversity in art as work that people ‘live’. The words of Artist and Panellist, Chloe Carterr embody this notion of 'lived’ work, when she stated ‘I live what I do’ in response to an audience member who asked about the dreams and delusions of artists in relation to what the panel members will do in their careers. The beautiful spoken word poetry that Chloe went on to share, embodied this living ‘what I do’ with an expression of both the joy and struggle of her work and showing how a sense of self cannot be separated from artistic labour.  

As Ahmed, (2017), discusses in Living a Feminist Life, diversity can be understood as a labour of ‘insistence’ and emotional work that requires a ‘chipping away’ at structures that do not necessarily facilitate our being. During our launch event it was clear from the discussions that the emotions of this ‘chipping away’ are; in doing art as work, expressed in works of art, produced in audiences of art, and in conversations about art as work.

Diversity as a form of labour was most explicitly discussed during the community interventions panel chaired by Diana Yeh, who pointed out how the panel speakers work both ‘within and against institutions’ and ‘spaces outside of these’. For instance, Darcy Dixon’s work to address representation in the production of art in the Creative Industries, Jennifer Lim’s advocacy for equal opportunities and humanising portrayals of East and Southeast Asians on screen, as well as Merje Laiapea’s creation of life affirming community spaces. When the speakers discussed their work, passionate languages of justice, nourishment, and wholeness were exchanged which both embodies the emotional qualities of diversity work and translates into ethical questions about how the work is done. From this discussion it was clear that diversity as ‘lived’ work requires a simultaneous working towards infrastructures that support what Ahmed (2017) describes as ‘diversity work’ within institutional spaces, as well as the creation of infrastructures of care in spaces outside of this.  


Ahmed, S., (2017), Living A Feminist Life. United Kingdom: Duke University Press.

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