Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)


Modern Languages and Literatures


Francie Cate-Arries

Committee Members

Teresa Longo

Christina Baker

Berhanu Abegaz


In today’s world, art and culture are becoming increasingly important in approaches to economic development. Although scholars of different academic disciplines have discussed the value of art in a variety of different fields, there is a lack of interdisciplinary work on the potential of art in areas of development. In this thesis, I aim to address this gap in the literature by analyzing projects that I classify as pragmatic creative interventions (PCIs). I define PCIs as projects that meet four different criteria: (1) they are collaborative; (2) they are localized; (3) they are forms of socially-engaged art; and (4) they are successful. My research begins with the construction of a theoretical framework that integrates a humanist approach to socially-engaged art with the recent concept of the creative economy, to argue for an interdisciplinary approach to development. I then present an original analysis of three different case studies from Latin America, which each demonstrate a different form of pragmatic creative intervention. The first case study addresses the arpillera movement in Chile; the second looks at the role of the Medellín International Poetry festival in the transformation of Medellín, Colombia. I conclude by examining the work of Mexican artist Raul Cárdenas Osuna and his creation of ToroLab in Tijuana, Mexico. I argue that these case studies represent manifestations of a pragmatic creative approach that a variety of actors can employ to produce economic, political, and social change. I conclude by addressing the issue of accountability within the study of these types of projects, as well as the implications of my research in areas outside of Latin America.

On-Campus Access Only