A Mouth Is Always Muzzled: Six Dissidents, Five Continents, and the Art of Resistance

A Mouth Is Always Muzzled: Six Dissidents, Five Continents, and the Art of Resistance

"A deeply felt and passionately expressed manifesto."--Kirkus Reviews (starred)As people consider how to respond to a resurgence of racist, xenophobic populism, A Mouth Is Always Muzzled tells an extraordinary story of the ways art brings hope in perilous times. Weaving disparate topics from sugar and British colonialism to attacks on free speech and Facebook activism and...

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Title:A Mouth Is Always Muzzled: Six Dissidents, Five Continents, and the Art of Resistance
Author:Natalie Hopkinson
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A Mouth Is Always Muzzled: Six Dissidents, Five Continents, and the Art of Resistance Reviews

  • Rachel Rochester

    In _A Mouth is Always Muzzled_, Natalie Hopkinson offers expansive background about the colonial history of Guyana, the aftermath of independence, and in-depth interviews with various members of the Guyanese creative class in an attempt to analyze the efficacy of art at fomenting political and social change. I was most compelled by the historical accounts of the region, which felt vibrant and lively in the way the best histories do. The on-the-ground glimpses into the lives of artists and activi

    In _A Mouth is Always Muzzled_, Natalie Hopkinson offers expansive background about the colonial history of Guyana, the aftermath of independence, and in-depth interviews with various members of the Guyanese creative class in an attempt to analyze the efficacy of art at fomenting political and social change. I was most compelled by the historical accounts of the region, which felt vibrant and lively in the way the best histories do. The on-the-ground glimpses into the lives of artists and activists generally did the heavy lifting to answer the book's main questions at issue: Can art drive real-world change, particularly regarding issues like racial strife, economic inequality, and political corruption? How can artists and cultural activists speak truth to power when they are afraid that their livelihoods (and sometimes their very lives) are at risk if they do so?

    Hopkinson's subjects are consistently world-weary, and are often cynical about the potency of art to instigate meaningful change. At the conclusion of the book, Hopkinson is perhaps less so. I would have liked to have read more data about the engagement and reach of some of the politically oriented projects detailed in the book, and I would also have liked to have had more contextualization about the arts culture in the region in general. All that said, Hopkinson has written an accessible and enjoyable investigation into some pressing and challenging questions facing those of us who are dissatisfied with the socio-political status quo the world over. As Hopkinson writes in her conclusion, "One role of the artist is to be one of these crazy people who can see a vision for the larger society and blaze a path that takes the rest of us there" (157). Perhaps, Hopkinson suggests, by considering the futures imagined by artists, we can develop new ways to take action to make them real.

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