A research programme led by Goldsmiths, University of London has received a substantial grant to help support its work with vulnerable people across three continents.
The project, entitled GlobalGRACE (Global Gender and Cultures of Equality), is a partnership of community groups and scholars based in Bangladesh, Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines and South Africa.
Dr Mark Johnson, Reader in Anthropology at Goldsmiths, will lead a team which also includes Drs Nirmal Puwar and Yasmin Gunaratnam, Readers in Sociology.
They will be joined at Goldsmiths by Dr Suzanne Clisby, Senior Research Fellow and co-director of GlobalGRACE and Dr James Turner, Project Manager and Research Fellow.
The project will explore how people use their creativity in dance, theatre, film, poetry and social media to share things that may be too sensitive or threatening to talk about directly.
For example, in the Philippines, the project will engage with marginalised LGBT young people through a poetry programme led by Professor J. Neil Garcia of the University of the Philippines.
Professor Garcia is a poet and literary critic who has worked extensively both on gay cultures and LGBT rights issues in the Philippines.
In South Africa, two researchers at the University of Cape Town, Drs Sara Matchett (Drama) and Yaliwe Clarke (Africa Gender Institute), will work alongside the Sex Workers’ Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT), using theatre to both raise public awareness about violence against women and challenge perceptions of sex workers.
In Brazil, Drs Marta Fernandez and Tatiana Moura (Pontifical University, Instituto Promundo and Instituto Maria e João Aleixo) will use street art and dance to challenge violent masculinities in Rio de Janeiro.
Other projects include participatory film making with female construction workers in Bangladesh, led by Dr Tanzina Choudhury, University of Shahjalal (in association with Friends of Village Development, Bangladesh), and a study of the role of museums in challenging discrimination against migrants in Chiapas, led by Dr Pavel Valenzuela Arámburo at Universidad Autónoma de Chiapas, Mexico (in association with Voces Meso Americanas).
Dr Mark Johnson said: “We are very pleased to have been chosen for this grant and are grateful to Research Councils UK for their support. We believe that stories, plays, songs and pictures are often the most powerful way of getting across sensitive messages about life’s difficulties, or for exploring how life could be different.”
Dr Suzanne Clisby, co-director of the project and principle investigator of the EU Marie S Curie GRACE project (graceproject.eu) out of which GlobalGRACE emerged, said: “Everyone involved in GlobalGRACE is hoping to grow the capacity of the arts and humanities to address unequal relationships and enhance the wellbeing of marginalised groups in a variety of poorer countries. We want to find out whether people’s creativity could produce moments when inequality can be challenged. Learning about and strengthening the production of cultures of equality is central to creating sustainable futures for us all.”
GlobalGRACE is one of a number of projects that have received funding as part of RCUK’s Global Challenges Research Fund.
The programme has seen £225m invested across 37 interdisciplinary projects in fields such as health, humanitarian crises, conflict, environment, economy, domestic violence, society and technology.
Jo Johnson MP, Minister for Universities and Science, said: “From healthcare to green energy, the successful projects receiving funding today highlight the strength of the UK’s research base and our leadership in helping developing countries tackle some of the greatest global issues of our time.
“At a time when the pace of scientific discovery and innovation is quickening, we are placing science and research at the heart of our Industrial Strategy to build on our strengths and maintain our status as science powerhouse.”