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Project presentation | MENA Cultures and Global Aesthetics

Global Frictions & Creative Traces: Works in Progress

Wednesday 30 October 2019
Registration required
P.N. van Eyckhof 1
P.N. van Eyckhof 1
2311BV Leiden
Image credits: Clown Me In

Global Frictions & Creative Traces is a project supported by the Force of Art initiative to assess the role of international funders to support arts and cultural organizations and facilitate cultural, social, and economic impact in the region and globally. Members of the MENA Cultures and Global Aesthetics research programme are among one of several research teams funded by a consortium of Hivos, the Prince Claus Fund, and the European Cultural Foundation to provide in-depth, interdisciplinary insights on the initiatives that these organizations have supported over the past twenty years.

As such, the initiative aims to shed light on the sometimes tricky balance between the need to appeal to international funding bodies and managing the realities on the ground. The Leiden University team has spent the past year comparatively analyzing four distinct case studies of cultural community building initiatives in the Middle East and North Africa. Apart from regional cultural affinities, the four cases share an engagement with the global challenges of contemporary moments of crisis: armed conflict and occupation, displacement and refugees, and climate change and sustainability. In contrast with the magnitude of the crises to which these initiatives respond, the projects under scrutiny are all marked by the local and the intimate. They seek to stimulate community participation in precarious urban environments, and aim to salvage personal stories and cultural expressions from perilous conditions. This event presents the tentative findings of this research. 

Mark Westmoreland and Judith Naeff will provide an overview of the project, while Cristiana Strava, Arnout van Ree, Kasper Tromp, and Lenneke Sipkes will elaborate on their individual cases. Strava will present her research with L’Atelier Observatoire, particularly their focus on sustainability and ‘green discourses’ to address urban renewal and community-building in Casablanca. Van Ree will address research with the Clown Me In program in Lebanon, which uses interactive street theatre performance and storytelling to foreground the issues of disadvantaged communities in Lebanon.

Tromp has been working with the Turkish art initiative Arthere to understand their efforts to support Syrian artists in Istanbul. Lastly, Sipkes presents her work on tourism in the West Bank and in particular the efforts of the Volunteer Palestine grassroots organization to place international visitors in the Aida refugee camp. Drawing on her extensive research on the institutionalization of heritage and art in the region, Chiara De Cesari (University of Amsterdam) will serve as discussant for this panel event. 

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