Arts, Peacebuilding and Decolonization: A Comparative Study of Parihaka, Mindanao and Nairobi
In the last two decades, research on the ‘power of the arts’ in building peace has increased to a level where one can legitimately make the claim that there now exists an emerging, or perhaps even a resurgent, academic field of arts-based peacebuilding. However, very few studies examine the ‘power of the arts’ in resolving conflicts with emphasis on the particularities of ‘post-colonial’ environments. Specifically, there is a dearth of literature that examines the differences and continuities between historical and arts-based contemporary practices for peace, considering how such factors as colonialism and neo-colonialism have influenced and continue to impact upon practices. Deploying a decolonizing lens, this study seeks to contribute to filling this gap in literature by exploring how arts-based initiatives, while composing works and processes of meaning, beauty, and imagination, simultaneously work towards breaking the apparent cycles of violence in ‘post-colonial’ contexts. The study focuses on arts-practices and approaches in three ‘post-colonial’ sites: Parihaka/Taranaki in Aotearoa/New Zealand; Mindanao region in Philippines; and urban Nairobi in Kenya. It is my thesis that the nature of Indigenous arts practices provides a platform and resource both for a (re)discovery of Indigenous wisdom from colonial legacy (particularly of artistic and cultural destruction) and creative decolonizing responses to conflicts in ‘post-colonial’ environments. To operate at full potential and contribute to epistemic diversity and plurality of arts-based practice, the process of decolonization needs be an integral part of building JustPeace through context-specific initiatives that focus on rediscovery, resistance, conscientization, healing and dialogue. In addition, this manuscript provides valuable insights into peace and nonviolence cultures that predated and have survived colonialism, and continue to constructively explore creative responses within a pervasive colonial matrix of power. As the findings from three case studies show, these Indigenous cultures of peace and nonviolence were, and continue to be, encoded in orature and other hybridized arts. In this spirit, this thesis also reexamines dominant assumptions on the ‘power of the arts’ in building peace and establishes the need to validate, elevate and amplify Indigenous Peacebuilding. The thesis also provides practical suggestions and recommendations to scholars and practitioners engaged in arts-based peacebuilding in ‘post-colonial’ contexts.
Advisor: Clements, Kevin P.; Standish, Katerina
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Arts; Peacebuilding; Decolonization; Parihaka; Mindanao; Nairobi; Indigenous; Arts-based
Research Type: Thesis