Feminist and anti-racist graffiti: Disrupting public space in the 1970s in Britain

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


During the 1970s Britain experienced social-economic instability and the streets became an arena of race riots, violent attacks against women, and workers’ strikes. The streets were also graffitied with politicized slogans. This chapter analyzes photographs by feminist and Black photographers documenting graffiti that expressed two political voices: the feminist movement and the anti-racist movement. The political and practical intersections between feminist and anti-racist graffiti are situated within the time’s historical events and feminist and political debates. Feminist graffiti is explored in relation to the second-wave British women’s movement’s emergence and the radical feminist backlash against sexual violence against women. Anti-racist graffiti is contextualized within the aftermath of the post-war Commonwealth immigration and the Black contestation of police control over Black neighborhoods. Given the distinct politicization of photography in 1970s Britain, I argue that photography was integral to graffiti intervention. Drawing on performativity and affect theories, I examine the significance of the graffiti photographs’ circulation in feminist and alternative publications and underscore that graffiti was an act of changing the city through creativity and play. Thus, feminist graffiti and anti-racist graffiti reclaimed urban space, exposed its gendered and racial power relations, and transformed it into a spectacular site of disruption and disobedience.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationArt and Activism in the Age of Systemic Crisis
Subtitle of host publicationAesthetic Resilience
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781000195439
ISBN (Print)9780367219840
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Taylor & Francis.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Feminist and anti-racist graffiti: Disrupting public space in the 1970s in Britain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this