People ASH professor María do Mar Castro Varela takes up Thomas Mann Fellowship in L.A.

As one of nine fellows, she will address questions about the "political mandate of art".

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In September 2023, Prof. Dr. María do Mar Castro Varela, Professor of Social Work and General Education at the Alice Salomon Hochschule Berlin, will take up the prestigious Thomas Mann Fellowship. The Thomas Mann House in Los Angeles sees itself as a "lively transatlantic place of debate, where outstanding personalities and thought leaders exchange ideas with each other and with the host country, the USA, on fundamental political, social and cultural issues of the present and the future.

On the 2023 annual theme: "The Political Mandate of Art."

The freedom of art is one of the commandments of every democracy. But what is the role of art when democracy comes under pressure? The Thomas Mann Fellows in Los Angeles selected for 2023 seek to answer these and other questions. During stays of several months in the former exile residence of the Mann family, today's Thomas Mann House, they will work on their own projects on the annual theme "The Political Mandate of Art" in exchange with US experts and the public.

Prof. María do Mar Castro Varela's Project 
Dealing with Disappointment: Aesthetic Enlightenment and the Art of Decolonization

In times of multiple crises, it is imperative to (re)examine the mandate of art. What role can or should art play in the face of increasing social injustices? Can critical artistic practices facilitate transnational justice and democracy and protect and promote human rights? Or should art be inappropriate? Given that art functions within capitalist structures and coloniality, the role of artist:s and art institutions is ambivalent. To find answers to this pressing question, María do Mar Castro Varela and Nikita Dhawan, on the one hand, look at artivism, whose origins lie in the social movements of the 1970s and 1980s in Los Angeles and Berlin. They also explore whether and how aesthetic education can help us imagine a planetary future.

About Prof. María do Mar Castro Varela

María do Mar Castro Varela, born in 1964 in A Coruña/Spain, studied psychology and pedagogy at the University of Cologne and earned her doctorate in political science at the Justus Liebig University Giessen. She is a professor of general education and social work with a focus on gender and queer at the Alice Salomon University of Applied Science in Berlin. Her research focus on social justice, digital hate and conspiracy theories, and issues of emancipation.

Nine outstanding personalities from culture and science

In addition to María do Mar Castro Varela, another eight fellows have been nominated by the Thomas Mann House's independent advisory board for residencies in 2023: journalist René Aguigah, poet Ghayat Almadhoun, historian Nikita Dhawan, art scholar Carolin Görgen, journalist Marlene Grunert, author Alice Hasters, musicologist Kai Hinrich Müller, and media scholar and curator Sophie-Charlotte Opitz. More about the Thomas Mann Fellows 2023 at

Further information about the Fellowship at h