Competing economies of worth in a multiagency music and reconciliation partnership: The Sri Lanka Norway Music Cooperation (2009-2018)

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Korum, S
Howell, G
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2020
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The Sri Lanka Norway Music Cooperation (2009–2018) was launched to ‘stimulate the performing arts in Sri Lanka, thus contributing to the peace and reconciliation process’ in the aftermath of almost three decades of civil war between the Tamil minority and Sinhala majority populations of the island. Funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the project had many local and international stakeholders, from artists and civil society organisations, to government institutions, to a general public eager for enrichment through arts and culture. But despite high engagement and financial investment, the achievements of the SLNMC were generally unremarkable and short-term. This article argues that competition and incompatibility between stakeholders within the SLNMC were major reasons for the project´s equivocal legacies. We analyse stakeholder investments in the SLNMC through the lens of Boltanski and Thevenot’s theory of justification and their conceptualization of worlds of legitimation (‘Economies of Worth’). Our findings indicate that while artistic practices have promising compatibility and complementarity with social goals like reconciliation, the accommodation of political interests, donor agendas, and domestic pressures can undermine the possibility of artistic-social projects reaching a higher common good.

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International Journal of Cultural Policy
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Communication and media studies
Cultural studies
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Korum, S; Howell, G, Competing economies of worth in a multiagency music and reconciliation partnership: The Sri Lanka Norway Music Cooperation (2009-2018), International Journal of Cultural Policy, 2020
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