Activating the Arts for International Development: Community Education, Innovative Models and Transnational Networks

Lead Research Organisation: Durham University
Department Name: Anthropology

Abstract

'Precarious Publishing in Latin America: Relations, meaning and community in movement' (hereafter 'Precarious Publishing') is an ongoing AHRC project funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund from 2018 to 2020. 'Precarious Publishing' focuses on a contemporary publishing phenomenon known in Latin America as editoriales cartoneras, often translated as 'cardboard publishing', because one feature that unites these 250 community organisations is the material from which they make their books: recycled cardboard. Yet the term 'cartonera' encompasses far more than the word 'cardboard'. It is also a reference to the cartonero figure - the cardboard collector or waste picker, a consequence of economic crisis, unemployment and poverty - that was so central in the formation of the first cartonera publisher Eloisa Cartonera in Buenos Aires (2003). Fifteen years on, some of these publishers, like Eloisa and Dulcineia (São Paulo), continue to work with waste-pickers. Many others have recycled the model of promoting change through community workshops, adapting it to address specific social and economic challenges: some work with groups of school children from marginalized rural areas, others with human rights in conflict zones, and others still, promoting sustainable production and consumption of materials and other resources.

The 'Precarious Publishing' research team has developed an innovative and interdisciplinary methodological framework to research on - and contribute to - cartonera practices in Mexico and Brazil. This framework is composed of a constellation of collaborative methods, including encuentros cartoneros (round-table debates and open forum discussions), co-publications, exhibitions, and workshops. The 'Activating the Arts' Follow-on-Funding develops the potential for impact arising from this process, by creating unforeseen pathways arising from ongoing engagement with our cartonera collaborators. Together, we have identified the cartonera workshop as the most robust and portable model of community outreach activity, able as it is to respond and adapt to different short and long-term development challenges. Our Follow on Funding brings together academics from Durham University and the University of Surrey, four cartonera publishers (two in Mexico, two in Brazil) - project collaborators with whom the research team have strong existing working relations - and other public stakeholders from the Ministry of Education in Mexico to the Director of the Mário de Andrade Library in São Paulo. Together, we will build, test, share and track an innovative programme of collaborative, creative workshops focused on education for sustainable development (ESD). The four cartonera publishers have been chosen because of their existing engagement with different global challenges, most particularly their work relating to inclusive and quality education; sustainable cities and communities; tackling stigma and inequality; and the promotion of peace and justice.

'Activating the Arts', will first pilot 4 sets of 15 workshops in rural and urban locations in Mexico and Brazil. These workshops will incorporate reflection with action, artistic creativity with social awareness, to build capacity to respond to specific local challenges - which in turn map onto global challenges including quality education, equality, peace and justice, and sustainability. On the basis of this pilot, we will then create a cartonera outreach programme - designed to instantiate multidimensional social and welfare impact - to be shared with all cartonera actors and their collaborators working in NGOs, social movements, and other social initiatives. The potential scalability of this portable socio-artistic model, combined with the transnational networks and collaborations that are already in place, provides an exciting opportunity to build capacity for sustainable development in hard-to-reach, marginalized communities in LMICs across and beyond Latin America.

Planned Impact

Impact is integral to the grassroots actions of cartonera publishers. This project will extend and strengthen the impact of cartoneras through a focus on education for sustainable development, with a number of anticipated impacts including changed attitudes and behaviour, capacity building and strengthening, broader networks and collaborations, and multidimensional social impacts. The initial beneficiaries will be members of the global cartonera network, and the communities in which they work. In the third phase of the project, though, our portable workshop programme will be shared across the cartoneras' transnational network of collaborators working in grassroots projects across the Global South: NGOs, social movements, and other informal social initiatives and community activists. Because of the portability and scalability of the cartonera model, and because of the international network of community activists with which it intersects (see CFS), the programme is expected to be successful both in reach and significance.

1. CHANGED ATTITUDES & BEHAVIOUR
Moving away from traditional pedagogical methods in International Development practices and discourse, the participatory workshops we propose empower communities to imagine their own solutions to global challenges through collective activities and discussions (see CFS). Incorporating reflection with action, artistic creativity with social awareness, our cartonera workshop programme will be designed to promote changed attitudes and behaviour in community contexts across the world, particularly in relation to issues of inclusive education, gender equality, peace and justice, and environmental sustainability (including responsible production and consumption of which cartoneras are a model).

2. CAPACITY BUILDING
Our portable educational programme, focused on education for sustainable development (ESD), is designed to build capacity across and beyond Latin America through new, innovative methods. Though the model of making books out of recovered cardboard is intrinsically simple and accessible, it requires resources, collaboration and creativity to put it to use for the promotion of SDGs. Through open-access resources, our project will strengthen the capacity of cartoneras and other community actors to promote sustainable development across the creative industries, the Not-for-profit sector, and the substantial informal sector in the Global South.

3. NETWORKS & COLLABORATIONS
Our interdisciplinary framework activates the arts by bringing together aesthetic practice and social action. This means a) building on existing collaborations between artists and activists, cultural promoters and social movement actors, and b) integrating these collaborations into a common programme of workshop activities. Through the interdisciplinary models proposed in our programme, cartoneras will be able to collaborate with a more diverse range of organizations working on key international development issues, from sustainability to peace and justice.

4. MULTIDIMENSIONAL SOCIAL & WELFARE IMPACT
In the longer term, this innovative approach to international development has the potential to be implemented in hard-to-reach, marginalized communities in LMICs across the world. As our current AHRC research project has shown, the cartonera model responds to the call for a multidimensional approach to progress: in rural schools in poor areas, it can enhance the national curriculum by modelling forms of responsible production, sustainable living and resilience; in marginalized urban communities, it can help tackle inequality by challenging social stigma and empowering individuals and collectives; and in conflict zones, it can join in the global movement for peace and justice through collective, reparative action. This diversity of possible impacts means that cartonera, through its rootedness in local communities, has true potential to enact change on a global level.
 
Title Activating the Arts 
Description This film charts the Activating the Arts project. It is available online in English, with Spanish and Portuguese subtitles 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact N/A 
 
Description The collaborative, co-produced programmes designed through 'Activating the Arts' point to how grassroots organisations with the support of a Higher Education institution in the UK were able to work with hard-to-reach populations within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals, all departing from a creative book making and story-telling model. Each collective produced a manual which is available online to allow other actors to access to their methodologies. A key finding was the importance of mobility in promoting networks: the London Cartonera Festival provided an opportunity to bring together diverse stakeholders in potentially new partnerships. Over 4 days, the British Library, Senate House and Cambridge University library, the Universities of Durham and Surrey, Save Latin Village campaign, the Mexican Embassy, and the production company Pixiu (which is producing a podcast from the event) worked together around the theme of cartonera and the issues it raises.
Exploitation Route Activating the Arts prototypes an arts-based development model and UK actors are already beginning to follow this up: the interest of collectives like Four Corners books and The Story of Books at the Hay Festival point to how cartonera's portable model can bring about tangible benefits for socio-economically marginalised populations, not just in Latin America, but also in the UK.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Education,Environment

 
Description Please see my overall submission
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Education,Environment
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Durham University Anthropology Department Funding Award
Amount £2,800 (GBP)
Organisation Durham University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2019 
End 08/2019
 
Description Activating the Arts: Cartoneras for Housing & Social Justice 
Organisation Dulcinéia Catadora
Country Brazil 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Together with project Co-I Dr Lucy Bell (University of Surrey), I developed strong relations with five cartonera publishing collectives in Mexico and Brazil. As a project team, we organised an intensive series of workshops in Mexico, which ran from March to August 2019, each oriented to a particular Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of local relevance. These were: 1) Peace & Justice (La Rueda and Viento Cartonero - Jalisco, Mexico), 2) Sustainable Communities (La Cartonera - Morelos, Mexico), 3) Housing & Social Justice (Dulcinéia Catadora - São Paulo, Brazil), 4) Education & Environment (Catapoesia - Minas Gerais, Brazil). The project resulted in four replicable programmes designed to foreground the potential scalability of this socio-artistic model: carton eras work in transnational networks and collaborations that are already in place, providing an exciting opportunity to build capacity for sustainable development in hard-to-reach, marginalized communities in LMICs across and beyond Latin America. As project team we facilitated the full process, providing budgetary, administrative, editing, translation, travel and reporting support to our project partners.
Collaborator Contribution Drawing both on my and their research networks, Dulcinéia Catadora invited 18 artists, activists and members of housing occupations to participate in the elaboration of a co-written book 'Moradia' on housing in the socio-economically deprived centre of São Paulo, Brazil. Through 6 workshops, the group addressed 'the right to a home' in a city with a large homeless population, building the capacity of housing activists from across the city and raising public awareness of the issue through a series of university seminars, book fairs and community workshops.
Impact Dulcinéia Catadora's initial workshops created positive impact through a series of follow-on interventions in socio-economically marginalised areas of São Paulo. Working from the community arts centres SESC Dom Pedro and SESC Carmo, important institutions which became interested in the collective's work as a result of their participation in Activating the Arts, Dulcinéia Catadora invited homeless people, present in these locations to discuss homelessness and bind a copy of the book on housing developed in the workshops. These interventions in the street attracted media coverage which has resulted in a subsequent connection to the Save Latin Village campaign in London, thus strengthening transnational activist networks and building capacity to mobilise the arts to make dispossession visible. This partnership also made a major contribution to the London Cartonera Festival event held from 17-20 September 2019 at the Senate House Library and the British Library.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Activating the Arts: Cartoneras for Sustainable Communities 
Organisation Cartonera Publishing
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Together with project Co-I Dr Lucy Bell (University of Surrey), I developed strong relations with five cartonera publishing collectives in Mexico and Brazil. As a project team, we organised an intensive series of workshops in Mexico, which ran from March to August 2019, each oriented to a particular Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of local relevance. These were: 1) Peace & Justice (La Rueda and Viento Cartonero - Jalisco, Mexico), 2) Sustainable Communities (La Cartonera - Morelos, Mexico), 3) Housing & Social Justice (Dulcinéia Catadora - São Paulo, Brazil), 4) Education & Environment (Catapoesia - Minas Gerais, Brazil). The project resulted in four replicable programmes designed to foreground the potential scalability of this socio-artistic model: carton eras work in transnational networks and collaborations that are already in place, providing an exciting opportunity to build capacity for sustainable development in hard-to-reach, marginalized communities in LMICs across and beyond Latin America. As project team we facilitated the full process, providing budgetary, administrative, editing, translation, travel and reporting support to our project partners.
Collaborator Contribution La Cartonera worked with the indigenous community of Xoxocotla, Mexico, in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in September 2017 that destroyed much of the village's housing and infrastructure. Through collaboration with the Yankuik Kuikamatilistli Cultural Centre, La Cartonera ran 18 workshops with over 250 community members to activate the village's collective memory and tell the story of its efforts in the reconstruction process. They also worked to build the community's capacity to edit and bind texts: as a result, the cultural centre can now produce its own educational materials in its mother tongue, Nahuatl.
Impact La Cartonera's work benefitted some of the most disadvantaged and stigmatised peoples in Mexico. In the aftermath of the earthquake, the capacity building workshops that La Cartonera carried out have allowed the indigenous community of Xoxocotla to take stock of the damage caused, but more importantly recognise and make known the strength of their community in its reconstruction efforts. Being able to publish on this, and importantly in Nahutl, has benefitted the community in reducing stigma through positive coverage in media outlets like La Jornada, Morelos. The effect on the community's children, as community activist Liliana Guerrero comments, has been pronounced: 'We were also moved to see how La Cartonera brought the children together to integrate them into the elaboration of the books, it was really a small oasis within the tragedy, to see happy children gathered in another activity as well'. This partnership also made a major contribution to the London Cartonera Festival event held from 17-20 September 2019 at the Senate House Library and the British Library.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Activating the arts: Cartoneras for Peace & Justice 
Organisation Cartonera Publishing
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Together with project Co-I Dr Lucy Bell (University of Surrey), I developed strong relations with five cartonera publishing collectives in Mexico and Brazil. As a project team, we organised an intensive series of workshops in Mexico, which ran from March to August 2019, each oriented to a particular Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of local relevance. These were: 1) Peace & Justice (La Rueda and Viento Cartonero - Jalisco, Mexico), 2) Sustainable Communities (La Cartonera - Morelos, Mexico), 3) Housing & Social Justice (Dulcinéia Catadora - São Paulo, Brazil), 4) Education & Environment (Catapoesia - Minas Gerais, Brazil). The project resulted in four replicable programmes designed to foreground the potential scalability of this socio-artistic model: carton eras work in transnational networks and collaborations that are already in place, providing an exciting opportunity to build capacity for sustainable development in hard-to-reach, marginalized communities in LMICs across and beyond Latin America. As project team we facilitated the full process, providing budgetary, administrative, editing, translation, travel and reporting support to our project partners.
Collaborator Contribution La Rueda and Viento Cartonero worked with the rehabilitation department of the Tonalá women's prison in Jalisco, Mexico, conducting story-telling and book-making workshops with female prisoners over a six-month period. Through 16 workshops that reached 296 participants, La Rueda and Viento Cartonero contextualised the cartonera movement, demonstrated how to make a book, and worked with the prisoners on how to tell their story, before creating the final books which were presented at a ceremony attended by the prison governor and TV. In order to increase the reach of 'Activating the Arts', I also worked with La Rueda and Viento Cartonero to create a travelling cartonera exhibition in 6 public libraries, reaching marginalised school populations.
Impact The work of La Rueda and Viento Cartonero has resulted in policy change within the Mexican prison system. As a result of La Rueda and Viento Cartonero's work, a new cultural programme, 'Bote Cartonero' has been established as a pilot project in the Tonalà facility and prisoners who participate in its on-going programme are recognised for their rehabilitation efforts, leading to the parole board offering reduced sentences as recognition. The prisoners themselves have described how telling their own story has changed their self-esteem and outlook on life. Comments include 'I never imagined I could draw, write and express my feelings by sharing a text which will travel to other countries', 'I want to show my three children that I have not been able to see, with joy to show them this book that has changed my attitude towards life' and 'after I tried to take my life and being in a coma for 3 months, I have discovered a new opportunity to live, this book allows me to communicate and express my feelings'. The launch event of the collected prison stories gained TV coverage by C7 Jalisco and has led to a request for information from Bambos Charalambous, Labour Party MP for Enfield Southgate in his role as member of the Justice Select Committee. Beyond their rehabilitation work, La Rueda and Viento were also able to work with the Jalisco state library system for the first time due to their links with the UK libraries, established as part of the Activating the Arts project. They established 6 travelling cartonera library exhibitions and this was also reported on by Mexican channel C7 TV. This partnership also made a major contribution to the London Cartonera Festival event held from 17-20 September 2019 at the Senate House Library and the British Library.
Start Year 2019
 
Description British Academy Summer Showcase Cartonera Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The British Academy's Summer Showcase is a free festival of ideas for curious minds and celebrates the ground-breaking research that is shaping our world. The Showcase presents an exciting opportunity to share research with audiences, through engaging and fun public engagement exhibits and activities, fully supported by the British Academy team. Conducting a Cartonera event at the 2020 event, we met everyone from schoolchildren and families to lifelong learners and young professionals, and shared our research with influencers, funders, policy makers, senior staff working for cultural organisations, university Vice-Chancellors and press at the Private View.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/events/summershowcase/2019/exhibits
 
Description Catapoesia Public Programme 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Catapoesia worked with school children and a 'quilombola' community (a community originally founded by escaped slaves) in three different locations in Minas Gerais, Brazil, a state of great natural beauty, but one that has extensive mining activity. Across 13 workshops, reaching over 200 school children, discussions focused on the importance of local traditions and how such knowledge is vital to the preservation of the environment. In the quilombola community, Riacho dos Ventos, their traditional practice of drying leaves was discussed and ways to increase women's income put forward.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Dulcinéia Catadora Public Programme 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Dulcinéia Catadora invited 18 artists, activists and members of housing occupations to participate in the elaboration of a co-written book 'Moradia' on housing in the socio-economically deprived centre of São Paulo, Brazil. Through 6 workshops, the group addressed 'the right to a home' in a city with a large homeless population, building the capacity of housing activists from across the city and raising public awareness of the issue through a series of university seminars, book fairs and community workshops.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description La Cartonera public programme 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact La Cartonera ran 18 workshops with over 250 community members to activate the village's collective memory and tell the story of its efforts in the reconstruction process. They also worked to build the community's capacity to edit and bind texts: as a result, the cultural centre can now produce its own educational materials in its mother tongue, Nahuatl.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description La Rueda and Viento Cartonero public programme 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact La Rueda and Viento Cartonero worked with the rehabilitation department of the Tonalá women's prison in Jalisco, Mexico, conducting story-telling and book-making workshops with female prisoners over a six-month period. Through 16 workshops that reached 296 participants, La Rueda and Viento Cartonero contextualised the cartonera movement, demonstrated how to make a book, and worked with the prisoners on how to tell their story, before creating the final books which were presented at a ceremony attended by the prison governor and TV. In order to increase the reach of 'Activating the Arts', I also worked with La Rueda and Viento Cartonero to create a travelling cartonera exhibition in 6 public libraries, reaching marginalised school populations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description London Cartonera Book Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Te British Library and Senate House Library hosted the first ever London Cartonera Book Festival in September 2019 in partnership with four leading cartonera ('cardboard') publishers from Mexico and Brazil. The festival consisted of 4 of cartonera book-making workshops over four days from 17 to 20 September 2019.

Each workshop was a hands-on event, providing a unique opportunity for the general public to learn more about the cartonera publishing movement in Latin America, and to walk away with a copy of a cartonera book. The workshops explored different facets of cartonera arts-based activism, which relate to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://london.ac.uk/senate-house-library/about-us/library-news/senate-house-library-hosts-first-eve...