Creative Ecologies: Multi-Arts Approaches to Resilience for Newly Arrived Refugees

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Balfour, Michael
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Hannah Schürholz and Rand T. Hazou
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2012
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Melbourne, Australia
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Abstract

Within the field of refugee studies, there is now a growing body of qualitative studies published within the last decade that aim to illuminate the resilience of particular refugee communities and individuals. These studies enable an understanding of the coping strategies and forms of strength that allow diasporic groups to thrive. One aspect of this resilience resides in the way individuals and groups have explored performance and arts-based work to define and redefine cultural identities. In some performances the source of resilience can be seen to reside outside the trauma story, located in the energy, the creativity and the adapted traditions that participants bring with them, along with their dreams and aspirations for the future. The keynote will draw on examples from 2 recent multi-arts projects with young people from a refugee background completed as part of a 3 year Australian Research Council project. The paper will explore how multi-arts (drama, art, poetry, digital story-making, dance, hip-hop, film making) can strengthen local ecologies of practice, through developing 'braided' arts processes that engage with participants in diverse aesthetic ways. The paper will posit that these kinds of artistic expressions may open up new areas of knowledge, and indicate the possibilities for working outside the paradigm of trauma and 'bureaucratic' performances. Where the arts function as a form of inquiry and activism may lead to a deeper appreciation of the phenomenon itself. In this way art-makers and participants may be afforded the benefit of thinking about, through and with the arts.

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7arakat Conference E-Proceedings: Theatre, Cultural Diversity And Inclusion e-proceedings
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Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies
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