Cultural Activism through the Arts: Migration, Memory and Belonging

By Peter Mbago Wakholi.

Published by The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

Young people of African descent in Australia, experience psycho-social challenges to their cultural identity development. Quite often this includes a denigration of their African cultures and the associated signifying symbols through exclusive Eurocentric cultural practises. And yet the young people carry with them embodied knowledge and memories from the African culture acquired through cultural socialisation prior to arrival in Australia as well as in "African" homes in Australia. Accordingly in a festival context arts were used to explore the identities of a group of African descendant youth as a means to developing understanding of the issues relating to their bicultural socialisation and ways in which Arts-based strategies could be used to address them towards bicultural competence. The festival was organised as an aesthetic and educative theatrical event using, the Ujamaa circle and the African centred pedagogy theory, Participatory action research and Performance, as a research Inquiry, for the project. A participatory approach, through educative dialogue and performance enabled the participants to reveal their own embodied knowledge about African cultural memory leading to an educative exploration of its relevance. The paper concludes by suggesting that the festival, as a third space, was a form of cultural activism enabling the young people to explore African cultural memory educatively.

Keywords: Cultural Memory, Identity, Arts

The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp.21-39. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 725.460KB).

Dr. Peter Mbago Wakholi

High School Teacher, Senior High School, Education Department of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Dr Peter Mbago Wakholi is a High School Teacher working with the Education Department of Western Australia. Peter is an artist (musician) who is actively involved in community arts both as a practitioner and researcher. Peter’s recent community based research project involved organising a festival with young people of African descent in Western Australia. The festival “Negotiating Cultural Identity through the Arts: The African Cultural Memory Youth arts Festival (ACMYAF)” examined ways in which African cultural memory, and the extent to which the arts based approaches benefited the cultural identity socialisation experiences of young people of African migrant descent. Peter has presented and facilitated at conferences, seminars and workshops including a 2-day seminar conference, to academics, teachers and social workers, at Victoria University School of Education, Melbourne. Peter has written (co-written) and published several articles in academic journals and book chapters. Peter’s research interests include: Parenting between cultures; Arts festivals as a context for negotiating cultural identity; and Sociology of schooling towards bicultural competence of visible migrants.