Reanimating Contested Spaces (ReSpace): Designing Participatory Civic Education for and with Young People in Kosovo and Rwanda

Reanimating Contested Spaces (ReSpace): Designing Participatory Civic Education for and with Young People in Kosovo and Rwanda is a Phase 2 Large Grant project.

ReSpace investigates how concepts of space, through arts-based participatory methods, can engage the ‘post-memory’ generation (Hirsch, 2008) in Rwanda and Kosovo to reimagine specific sites of memory. The project intends to impact upon educational content and methods in these countries by introducing creative methods to explore concrete spaces in young people’s social surroundings. These spaces bear witness to often-silenced, everyday histories of, for example, civic resistance and societal cohesion, before or after war and violence. The project combines innovative technologies with causal, factual (evidential, not selective) and affective approaches to history in contrast to essentializing stories of war horrors and victimisation. The methods, focus and spaces explored thereby serve as interactive and exploratory civic educational means for youth to identify: (1) the contextual reasons for societal disintegration and violence; and (2) the civic potentials of counteracting these processes.  

Through a collaboration with architects, designers and artists as organised or non-formalised members of the CSO sector from across these countries, ReSpace will introduce a series of workshops that employ creative experimentation with digital animation and VR technologies. These provide innovative and critical, yet safe, explorations of selected spaces, as an alternative means of engaging and co-creating multiple historical knowledge. Amongst other things, the project asks how can art and design methods, encourage young people to explore the cultural heritage of space (affective, enspaced histories) as well as re-‘invent’ these spaces, in differently situated post-conflict and educational contexts? And how can it reflexively develop methods that see a move from hierarchical didactic spaces that operate to maintain the status quo, to spaces of participation?  

Over the course of a year, the project critically engages youth from organisations in Rwanda, Kosovo, through a series of workshops, to research and reimagine selected historical sites (e.g. urban cultural locations). By the end of the project, the youth would have gained deep contextual knowledge and designed their own VR experience, and it is envisaged that a pedagogical method would emerge from this process. Additionally, the project will commission contemporary artists to create interactive work engaged with space, allowing all involved to simultaneously interrogate the notions of ‘invited’ and ‘invented’ (Miftab, 2004) spaces by civil society in the past and present. 

Visit the project website for more information on the project and to meet the project team. You’ll find incredible resources on artistic methods, how to videos on sketching and stop-motion, toolkits, and fact-files about different sites in Kosovo and Rwanda.

Check out the ReSpace Instagram and YouTube accounts for more visual content:

@respace_cts

@respacerwanda

@respace_kosova

Watch the recording from the ReSpace Symposium, a Changing the Story: Inside Out and Outside In Festival event (June 2021):

 

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