Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP): Youth and Participatory Arts in Rwanda

Breed, Ananda (2019) Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP): Youth and Participatory Arts in Rwanda. In: Participatory Arts in International Development. Routledge, pp. 124-143. ISBN 9780367024963

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Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP): Youth and Participatory Arts in Rwanda

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This chapter will explore the notion of youth and participatory arts in the context of post-genocide Rwanda twenty-five years after the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi. Tropes such as youth, participation, justice, reconciliation, education and empowerment are often used transnationally without considering the relevance of these terms within a particular cultural and linguistic framework. I seek to address some of these omissions and debates concerning how, when and why the participatory arts might be used with and for young people in post-genocide Rwanda through a practice-as-research project entitled Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) designed to develop safe, inclusive and progressive spaces for young people. The use of participatory arts by young people holds immense potential to foster people- to-people approaches to peacebuilding initiatives in Rwanda. The research has been conducted in partnership with the Institute for Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP) including ten cultural organisations, twenty-five educators, five schools and ten youth from the Eastern Province of Rwanda. The initial pilot phase of activities from March 2018 to December 2018 included a scoping visit and curriculum workshop (March 2018), training of trainers (August 2018) and youth camp (Nov-Dec 2018). Pilot activities involved an additional sixty adult trainers through subsequent training of trainer activities led by adult trainers in their schools and five hundred young people who participated in weekly MAP activities. Methodologically, I used a triangulation approach: first, I observed the value of using various interdisciplinary arts practices within practical workshop sessions, noting and recording behavioural and social responses to the workshop experiences; second, I used existing scholarship on mental health awareness and consultation with partner organisation Sana Initiative to consider how post-genocide trauma may influence participants’ behaviour, responses and engagement with project activities; and third, I collected quantitative and qualitative data through interviews, participant observation, surveys and workshops to establish participants’ own perspectives on the gains and challenges of the project activities. My main argument is two-fold. First, that participatory arts can help communities and individuals to forge peace-building initiatives. Second, that engaging youth participants in these processes is particularly effective, due to their ability to approach issues from new perspectives as change makers. Thus, youth are well-placed to be trained as facilitators and youth leaders for ongoing participatory arts workshops related to peace-building initiatives. In this chapter, I will further critique the concepts of ‘youth’ and ‘participatory arts’ in relation to the contexts of peace-building initiatives in Rwanda. I consider the Rwandan context within which I have been working, noting in particular the currency of participatory arts and the engagement of and with young people in arts-based practices that seek to address issues arising from the history of genocide in the country. Then, I outline the MAP project, offering three examples of participatory arts practice drawn from practical workshops designed to engage young people in dialogue. I conclude with the finding that further mental health awareness and participatory methods of engagement are needed to create a space for open dialogue and debate with and for young people in Rwanda, and I end the chapter with further recommendations for follow-on research activities.

Keywords:Participatory Arts, Mobile Arts for Peace, Applied Performance
Subjects:L Social studies > L252 War & Peace studies
W Creative Arts and Design > W400 Drama
X Education > X100 Training Teachers
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
ID Code:38236
Deposited On:01 Nov 2019 14:50

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