Peace in Progress Nº 32

Fanaka Arts Project

With more than 700,000 inhabitants, the Mukuru suburb is one of the largest of Nairobi (Kenya). Just as in other places with a precarious housing plan and high levels of poverty, the Mukuru population has to face problems such as lack of sanitation, access to education, domestic violence, crime, drugs traffic and prostitution.

In this context of limited resources and lacking opportunities, a group of young people who grew up in the neighbourhood launched a communitarian movement in order to give support to children, young people as well as other residents of Mukuru and keep them away from delinquency and drug use. With this objective in mind, the Fanaka Arts Project saw the light, a program teaching the suburb’s youngsters to perform acrobatics and choreographies which, later on, they can bring on stage in cultural centres abroad.

The project offers children and young people a pacific surrounding where they can develop their talent and reinforce their self-confidence. Acrobatics are a way for the artists to express themselves, and now, they can be part of a large team where everyone plays an active role and depends on the support and the motivations of his partners. In this training and learning environment, the youngest can find a mentor in the veterans while these, in return, realise they can become a positive reference for the community.

Proyecto 43-2 theatre company

The theatre company Proyecto 43-2 is an artistic initiative, born in 2011 in the setting of the end of ETA’s violence in the Basque Country. The project, directed by the actress and journalist María San Miguel, surfaced with the intention of using theatre as a tool for coexistence, dialogue and to create bonds within the community. The name of the company is not a coincidence: 43,313° - 2,680° are the geographic coordinates of the Gernika Tree, symbol of the Basque people’s liberties.

The group works, looking from an artistic and pedagogic angle, on issues of social and political relevance through theatre productions, workshops and talks. Its main project is a trilogy on the conflict in the Basque Country, with two plays that have already been brought on stage, and another one in the production phase about to be released.

The first production, titled Proyecto 43-2, staged the meeting between a widow, her two sons and two friends, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the father’s killing during an ETA attack. While the characters gather around the table to share dinner, some light is shed on how the terrorist organisation’s violence can break family bonds and how pain and the reconstruction of an identity are processed.

The second part of the trilogy is La mirada del otro (‘The gaze of the other’), a play that reproduces gatherings between ETA’s victims and victimisers in a mediation program, known as Via Nanclares (Nanclares Road), launched in the prison of Nanclares de la Oca, Alaba. Through the translation of a real event, the production shows a process of reflection and dialogue around the Basque conflict, with our gaze resting on pacific coexistence and the promotion of the peace culture.

Finally, the theatrical trilogy is closed with Viaje al fin de la noche (‘Trip to the end of the night’), which addresses the relation between violence, identity and uprooting. The work is the result of the investigation, carried out by the company, around the ideas of uprooting, identity and motherland, defended by ETA as a justification for violence. It aims at demonstrating how the use of violence has impacted on society and at reflecting on whether the common identity, based on pain and suffering, has had an influence on the peacebuilding process.  

Music and Conflict Transformation. Harmonies and Dissonances in Geopolitics, Olivier Urbain (ed.)

This work, published by Olivier Urbain, researcher at the Toda Institute for Global Peace, addresses the power of music in the pacific and effective transformation of conflicts, starting from the collection of articles, composed by researchers and professional musicians. The book combines the theoretical perspective of renowned academics, such as Johan Galtung, Cynthia Cohen and Karen Abi-Ezzi, with first-hand stories from musicians such as Pete Seeger and Yair Dalal, in order to explore the role of music and its use, ranging from politics to the promotion of peace.

Music and Conflict Transformation is divided in four sections, the first one offering a contextual framework and highlighting the connections between music and peace. In the second part, an analysis is offered of the impact of music on society and how it can be used in politics, with concrete examples from different places in the world, while the third section gives examples of the transforming power of music in prisons and in the context of conflict resolution. Finally, the last part collects experiences from professional musicians, interviews and anecdotes, to explain the impact of music through personal stories.

The objective of the book is getting the readers to grasp the power of music in the transformation of conflicts, and presenting the roads we can keep exploring, in order to discover its full potential in the improvement of coexistence, without forgetting the harmonies and dissonances of the present geopolitics.

Music and Conflict Transformation is available on loan in the ICIP Library.

La guerra dibujada

La guerra dibujada (2006) is a documentary that captures the experience of children who went through the Spanish Civil wa, at the hand of the drawings they made during this period. The film offers a new perspective, namely that of our small ones, to understand the horror of war and its effects on the daily life of the population who lived in republican territory.

The documentary, directed by Xavier Cortés and Amanda Gascó, is based on direct testimonies of children, elderly people at present, who elaborated their individual account of the conflict using nothing but paper and pencil. For most of them, it’s the first reunion with their work which has been dispersed in archives all over the world and, in many cases, has been used to raise awareness, even beyond the Spanish borders, on the cruelty of the Civil War and the children’s situation during this conflict. Through the drawings, produced in the peace and quiet of youth camps on the Mediterranean coast and in the south of France, the film shows what reality represented for these children during the war: bombings, evacuations and separation from their parents. Moreover, experts in art therapy and in childhood and violence analyse the content of the works and their value as a tool to express feelings when facing traumatic events.

La guerra dibujada offers, in little more than 50 minutes of footage, a new perspective to grasp what the Civil War meant and to observe what happens when children are given the opportunity to explain what they went through. Besides being the first documented case where art is used as therapy in a massive and therapeutic manner, the drawings of the Civil War have become an important source of great documentary value and historical legacy.

ICIP exhibits

The activity of ICIP in matters of training and spreading of information concerning topics related to peacebuilding and peace culture are often linked with different forms of artistic expression. One of the institute’s proper resources for promoting peace through art is the production of its own exhibit material, which are then made available to a wide range of organisations and municipalities.

The latest exhibits, set up by ICIP are Món-tanca (‘World-fence’, 2017), Living on the Edge (2015), #efecteGEZI. El poder transformador de l’art (‘The transforming power of art’, 2015) and Paraules descalces. Dones fent pau (‘Barefoot words. Women making peace’, 2011)

Xabaca, international network against censorship of Arab female artists

The International Xabaca network is an initiative that was born out of the collaboration between Novact, the Al Fanar foundation and the Jiwar association, to promote artistic creations made by Arab women as a source of social transformation and of human rights defence. The project saw the light in 2016 in order to give an answer to the situation of censorship and repression the Arab female artists are suffering. They are facing a double oppression, due to the fact of being women, and because they are perceived by the authorities as a threat for the structures of power.

In order to give support to the creative spirits and give visibility to their public and political role, the project structure is based on two different areas, focussing on the artistic development and on the reinforcement of activism in favour of gender equality and fundamental rights, especially freedom of speech. During the first year of the network’s existence, this objective has been materialised through the awarding of four grants to female artists from Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon and Palestine. The objective of the grant is, on one hand, to boost the artistic process of the beneficiaries, document it and spread their works, and on the other hand, reinforce the artists’ role as agents of social change.

The Xabaca project wants to promote the creation of an international network which brings together organisations, working for human rights in Catalonia and in the artists’ home countries. After participating in a capacity-building program, included in the project, the same women continued the process of empowerment and activism from within their respective countries, in order to reinforce the new nodes of the network.

Cartooning for Peace

One of the values of humoristic illustrations which can be found in the written press is their ability to transcend cultures and simplify political contexts. These graphic elements have become a tool, capable of creating intercultural dialogue, since they have always promoted the debate around topics such as freedom of speech, peace and tolerance. In the year 2006, well aware of this value, a group of graphic humourists founded the international network Cartooning for Peace in the seat of the United Nations, presided by the French cartoonist Plantu and under the sponsorship of the former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan. The project was born with the objective of defending fundamental rights and democracy in the middle of a tense climate, generated by the publication of some cartoons of Mohamed in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005, which led to protest from the Muslim community and acts of violence in several countries.

Cartooning for Peace has adopted a series of commitments which focus on three mean axis: the promotion of journalistic illustrations as a way to defend human rights and freedom of speech; the use of the educational value of these cartoons to denounce whatever form of intolerance and raise awareness among young people on the main social problems through humour, and finally give support and visibility to cartoonists around the world who cannot work freely.

The network consists of a main association in Paris, a foundation in Geneva and a second association in Atlanta. At present, more than 160 cartoonists of nearly 60 countries have joined and count with the support of numerous NGOs and news media.

© Generalitat de Catalunya

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