Artistic Identities: narratives, education, creation and appropriation of arts practices

Year: 2019

Author: Zapata, Restrepo, Gloria, Coleman, Kathryn

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In 2017 FARC rebels and the Colombian government signed a peace treaty ending decades of internal warfare in Colombia. A key feature of the peace agreement was the reincorporation of rebels (young men and women) into society. Education was to provide a key means for this process. This included tertiary education for the ex- rebels, but also tertiary education for teachers, community workers and artists who would work in affected communities. After more than five decades of Colombian conflict, possibilities for comprehensive and continuous research about providing education opportunities for members of armed movements has been scarce, especially those about FARC EP (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejército del Pueblo) (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People´s Army). Certainly, research about characterisation, description and analysis of those groups, based on interventions, interactions or any other fieldwork has been almost impossible due to severe restrictions concerning access and safety. This is understandable given the context.

In the situation we find ourselves in today, education is crucial not only for the process of ex-combatants’ reincorporation into the civil society, but also the victims and communities’ social recovery and restoration. This research and Arts Education Healing Programme takes the view that arts education is a distinct and crucial part of the education to be provided to the combatants and the victims. Significantly a fact is that, academic communities and Colombian society in general know very little about ex-combatants’ arts practices; their uses of culture; the role of arts in everyday life; and specially, their artistic experience interactions and practices, and their artistic training and knowledge. In this paper I will explore the current political climate in Colombia, and a proposal to develop an awareness of the role of arts in educating self and others. This proposed programme was designed to provide opportunities to explore and practice artistic skills and develop arts education pedagogical skills. However, this all relied on the elections held in 2018. Given the outcome of the election, the proposal had to shift action for the participants of the project to work more closely with vulnerable people, such as those displaced, homeless or abused in Colombia. This programme aims have not shifted, and will continue to provide a strong foundation for engaging in future education and community arts contexts.