Call for Papers: Special Multidisciplinary Issue on Black Aesthetics and the Arts Therapies

Guest Editors: Marisol S. Norris (USA), Britton Williams (USA), & Leah Gipson (USA)

This is a call for submissions to Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy to advance the emerging dialogue on black aesthetics and the arts therapy disciplines. This special issue seeks to expand scholarship in this area by encouraging authors to not only explore Black personhood, lifeworlds, and culture within the arts therapies but to engage in anti-oppressive writing and research practices that collaborate with Black communities and amplify their narratives. Those who aim to deepen and expand the understanding of black aesthetics are invited to submit various modes of scholarly expression, including but not limited to academic papers, arts-based research, and artistic products/responses for this special issue of Voices to be published in November 2020.


For this special issue, black aesthetics are broadly defined as the processes and relational meaning-making of people(s) racially positioned as Black. The lifeworlds that signify black aesthetics denote the subjective and intersubjective experience of Black people(s) based upon their cultural histories, narratives, representations, and positionality in the world. Central to this idea of black aesthetics are the complex experiences of place among African diasporic people(s) in relationship to race. The construct of place, however, additionally considers the engendering, queering, and decolonizing of the Black subject to reflect the positionality of black personhood. Conjointly this must attend to the intersectionality of gender, sexuality, class, disability, religion, etc. of Black people. As such, black aesthetics amplifies, describes, and illuminates the non-monolithic lifeworlds created by and assumed by Black people(s) and the analysis and critique of these experiences of place within various modes of artistic and literary expression.


Submissions selected for this special issue will reflect a broad scope of theories, practices, and research related to black aesthetics within the arts therapies. Contributors are asked to explore central questions of black aesthetics that reflect analysis and critique within arts therapies theory, practice, education, research, profession, and praxis. Central questions may include: What are the aesthetic experiences of Black people in the arts therapies? What are the roles of black lifeworlds in Black clients’ aesthetic experiences? How can creative processes allow for a holistic conceptualization of Black personhood and lifeworlds? How can artistic processes disrupt the criminalization and pathologizing of Black being? What is the role of education in expanding culturally sustaining practice within Black communities? How do arts therapists move beyond deficit and asset ideologies to holistic conceptualizations of Black personhood and life worlds, attend to intersectionality, and resist the pathologization of those they work?


See Guidelines for Voices submissions. Authors should use the online submission system for the journal.


When uploading the paper, authors should choose the special issue option from the relevant menu. Papers submitted will be sent to the Guest Editors for the special issue for peer review and feedback.


Title and Abstract of proposed paper: Submitted by January 20, 2020

Submission of Paper for review: prior to May 31, 2020


Final decision about inclusion in the journal: September 15, 2020


Inquiries about this Special Issue can be directed to Marisol Norris, Britton Williams, and Leah Gipson at

March 16, 2019

Third Think Tank & 2nd Conference, New York. Conference: March 16, 2019, Metropolitan Museum of Art. Think Tank Co-Chaired: Britton Williams and Elizabeth McAdam. Conference Co-Chaired by Nisha Sajnani and Yasmine Awais. Sponsors include: NYU Steinhardt, SAIC, MET, School of Visual Arts, Drexel University, Pratt Institute, Valparaiso University, NYSADTA, and Karen Codd Fairchild. You can download the final conference program here. 



September 14, 2018

Second Think Tank & Conference, Chicago . September 14/15, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Co-Chaired by Leah Gipson & Dr. Savneet Talwar, Department of Art Therapy. Download the full conference schedule here. Read Cliff Joseph and the Third World (1974) - key conference paper.

March 13, 2018

Inaugural Think Tank and Public Conversation, New York. The inaugural Critical Pedagogy in the Arts Therapies Think Tank & Public Conversation was launched as part of the NYU Creative Arts Therapies Consortium on March 13, 2018. It was chaired by Dr. Nisha Sajnani, Director, Drama Therapy, NYU Steinhardt. 

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