Suitcase of Survival: Performance, Biography and Intercultural Education: Unlocking the Past – Collaborative Learning Through Witness Testimony & Performance, Enabling Communities & Individuals to Engage with Intercultural Learning & Teaching

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

Since the Holocaust, vast volumes of documentation on instances of genocide have been collected by the United Nations and educational organisations. In the UNESCO Guidelines on Intercultural Education there are two points of focus extracted from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stating that education is a holistic human need and the fulfilment of this individual need promotes empathy and understanding, enabling peaceful interactions. In addition to official documentation collected by the international courts for transitional justice purposes, survivor and witness accounts of genocide have been collected by nongovernmental organisations, published by survivors and witnesses, and put on display in museums and memorials. The primary purposes of this vast corpus of documentation have been to facilitate transitional justice processes and to ‘bear witness’, providing a historical record of these crimes for future generations. In this chapter however, I explore how such documentation can also be utilised in less traditional and more creative ways, achieving new and valuable outcomes. The Tin Ring (2012) was developed from the published memoir of Holocaust survivor Zdenka Fantlova. Evidence from audience feedback and data collected from nearly one hundred international performances demonstrate how performative action developed from testimony can both contribute to the study of cultures and languages and support the mechanisms of understanding cultures. Humans deploy learning based on knowledge and reflections on the relationship between language and intercultural communication. This can activate personal resilience, tolerance and further understanding of the inter relationship between taught learning and the understanding of the self. Performance as an action presents opportunities for both performer and spectator to de-centre from their self, respectively, cultivating ways of seeing from the perspective of others, developing a flow of critical, cultural awareness.Drama promotes an awareness of archetypes not stereotypes and a forum to experience and re-experience humanity as a collective, demonstrating how performance can be understood as a primal human function, “The theory feeds the practice, the practice feeds the theory” (Schechner, 2015, p.42). Ultimately highlighting how engagement with the creative arts and the action of performance contributes to public knowledge of and reflection upon experiences of communities learning and living together. 1. Schechner, R. (2015) Performed Imaginaries. Abingdon & New York: Routledge.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGoing Performative In Intercultural Education
Subtitle of host publicationInternational Contexts, Theoretical Perspectives and Models of Practice
EditorsJohn Crutchfield, Manfred Schewe
Place of PublicationBristol
PublisherMultilingual Matters
Chapter11
Pages216 - 229
Number of pages14
Volume31
EditionLanguages for Intercultural Communication and Education
ISBN (Print)9781783098545
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2017

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