The Phil Lind Initiative: Pop Politics

Pop Culture and Political Life in the United States

Popular culture and the artists that contribute to it, play a vital if complicated role at the heart of American political life. Art is and always has been political. The music, movies, novels, tv shows, memes and podcasts that saturate our daily existence help shape our realities, and reveal much about how American society understands politics. A testament to its influence, more people experience politics through mass culture than they do through formal political acts. This speaks to the potential power that pop culture has for getting Americans – and younger generations in particular – engaged with the political debates that define our era. But pop culture, susceptible as it is to manipulation and underpinned by commercial interests, is not without potential pitfalls for democratic societies.

This year’s Phil Lind Initiative takes a look at “pop politics” through the lens of artists who have used their craft to take a political stance. Voicing the experience of refugees and the LGBTQ2+ community, demanding climate justice, questioning income inequality, and uplifting marginalized communities, our speakers have tackled many of the defining debates of American political life and used their creative outputs as acts of connection, of resistance, and of survival. The 2024 series Pop Politics offers a novel and nuanced exploration of how pop culture has influenced and shaped how we understand, experience, and practice politics in the United States.

The Phil Lind Initiative is presented by UBC's School of Public Policy and Global Affairs in partnership with the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts.

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