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Not Here, Not Now, Not That!

Protest over Art and Culture in America

In the late 1990s Angels in America,Tony Kushner’s epic play about homosexuality and AIDS in the Reagan era, toured the country, inspiring protests in a handful of cities while others received it warmly. Why do people fight over some works of art but not others? Not Here, Not Now, Not That! examines a wide range of controversies over films, books, paintings, sculptures, clothing, music, and television in dozens of cities across the country to find out what turns personal offense into public protest. 

What Steven J. Tepper discovers is that these protests are always deeply rooted in local concerns. Furthermore, they are essential to the process of working out our differences in a civil society. To explore the local nature of public protests in detail, Tepper analyzes cases in seventy-one cities, including an in-depth look at Atlanta in the late 1990s, finding that debates there over memorials, public artworks, books, and parades served as a way for Atlantans to develop a vision of the future at a time of rapid growth and change.

Eschewing simplistic narratives that reduce public protests to political maneuvering, Not Here, Not Now, Not That! at last provides the social context necessary to fully understand this fascinating phenomenon.

384 pages | 8 line drawings, 38 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2011

Political Science: Political Behavior and Public Opinion

Sociology: Social Change, Social Movements, Political Sociology, Sociology of Arts--Leisure, Sports


“This is a deeply serious enquiry into community responsibility and democratic possibility, thought-provoking, morally alert and socially engaged.”

Times Higher Education

“Steven Tepper’s Not Here, Not Now, Not That! offers invaluable insights into how social change and uncertainty drive protests over art. With fresh data and perspectives, Tepper makes a compelling case that cultural conflicts are largely homegrown, tied to each community’s shifting demographics and values. It’s an eye-opening work.”

Ken Paulson, president of the First Amendment Center

“Tepper draws a crucial link between controversy about art and the other social conflicts that consume Americans. Treating the controversies sensitively and critically, the book demonstrates clearly that meanings, ideas, symbols, and art are an important arena for contests over community and morality. It illuminates the culture wars by showing the roots and stakes of culture conflicts.”

Andrew Perrin, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“There has been a great deal written over the last several decades about the so-called culture wars and related issues of art, arts policy, and artistic censorship. Tepper’s book, by deploying the analytical and empirical tools of modern sociology and avoiding the advocacy and name-calling so characteristic of these controversies, has provided new insights and new data on a topic about which it had seemed there was nothing more to be said. The book is an important and much-needed addition to the literature on arts policy.”

Frederick Schauer, University of Virginia

Not Here, Not Now, Not That! is an impressive achievement. Its rich analysis of data from media sources and surveys is by far the best evidence anywhere about the nature and extent of cultural conflicts involving the arts. The extensive city-by-city comparisons contribute importantly to our understanding of local variations and the effects of local conditions on these conflicts. I highly recommend this valuable and engaging book.”

Robert Wuthnow, Princeton University

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Social Nature of Offense and Public Protest over Art and Culture

1. A Bird’s-Eye View of Cultural Conflict in America

2. Social Change and Cultural Conflict: Uncertainty, Control, and Symbolic Politics

3. Some Like It Hot: Why Some Cities are More Contentious than Others

4. Fast Times in Atlanta: Change, Identity, and Protest

5. From Words to Action: The Political and Institutional Context for Protest

Introduction to Chapters Six, Seven, and Eight: Profiles of Contention

6. Cities of Cultural Regulation: Cincinnati, Dayton, Kansas City, and Oklahoma City

7.  Cities of Contention: Dallas, Fort Worth, Charlotte, and Denver

8.  Cities of Recognition: San Francisco, Albuquerque, San Jose, and Cleveland

9.  On Air, Our Air: Fighting for Decency on the Airwaves

Conclusion: Art and Cultural Expression in America: Symbols of Community, Sources of Conflict, and Sites of Democracy

Epilogue: Reflections on Cultural Policy, Democracy, and Protest

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