Crossing Worlds: South–North Collaborations as Creative Encounters with Arts, Humanities and Sciences

Kim Berman, Michelle LeBaron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The humanities and the arts are increasingly in crisis, yet have never been more needed. To illustrate challenges and possibilities in this crisis, we give examples of collaboration between north and south; and amongst scientists, artists, humanities and legal scholars. As a Canadian law professor and a South African visual arts scholar who co-founded a Johannesburg community art centre, we describe our collaborative work and its lessons. Overall, our work strengthened our convictions that while the humanities are in crisis, they are also in a state of becoming, hope and possibility. We describe two examples: HIV/AIDS prevention work in the early 2000s when artists and humanities resources helped stem the tide of infections in the midst of scientific misinformation about how the disease was spread. Our second example is a seminar abroad for Canadian law students in South Africa. As the responsible faculty members, we integrated arts and humanities pedagogies into the students’ experiences. Students found many encounters unsettling, and arts methods both ameliorated and, in some cases, accented, their discomfort. Discomfort, when normalised and engaged, gave way to curiosity and growth. This work proved useful in addressing broader questions of the role of arts and humanities in future democracies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-76
Number of pages18
JournalCritical Arts
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Democratisation
  • arts-based engagement
  • creativity
  • resilience
  • transformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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