Day 16 of the International Summer School on Pluralism, Social Change and Development in Bangalore, India, Friday 22nd of July 2016.
By Karen Whitney Maturure
Day 16 was a day everyone had worked towards for over a week. No one knew what the other groups had in store and so the excitement was evident. The day kicked off with a very creative and thoroughly prepared presentation on Reconciliation. The conference room was transformed into a newsroom where reporters took us on a visual journey around India, interviewing the public. They staged a live television discussion on the issue, followed by different country specific reports.
Following this, there was a presentation on the “Tree of Reconciliation” where its roots and diverse fruits were discussed. Each fruit represented a certain dimension of reconciliation: restorative justice, retributive justice, moral responsibility, national building, forgiveness, remorseful apology, truth and healing. People had to pick a fruit and explain why they saw this one as the most important. What emerged in a subsequent discussion was that all fruits were linked together; they are all dimensions needed for true reconciliation.
The next group also had an interesting topic: Gender and Identity, which invoked a wider discussion on the status of women and gender dynamics in different parts of the world. First, there was a warm up exercise. In the exercise there were two categories for identities, the dominant and non-dominant forms. Everyone stood in a single row and was asked to move one step forward if they belonged to the dominant identity in their respective societies and one step back if they did not. In the end people were in different lines with some in the front and others in the back or in between. The group then showed an insightful video on their interviews with men and women in and out of campus on how they perceive gender. The exercise and the video evoked a discussion on how societal views frame certain categories: “gender and other identities as performance” and the role of interpretation. The discussion continued on gender and religion, economic development, media and politics. What emerged was that women are disadvantaged because of traditional gender dynamics which are hard to change, partly due to women’s conformity.
The last, but arguably the best (because this was my group haha :)) team took people on a political journey to India, Indonesia, Kenya and Zimbabwe in form of videos and other images. The group took the summer school reading by Pierre Rosanvallon on counter democracy as its shared point of departure. The different presentations focussed on how the relationship between the government of several countries and their citizens deteriorates into mistrust, at times accompanied by escalating violence, when citizens protest against their malfunctioning governments.
The group then explored possible causes of mistrust and how citizens respond. The major common causes are corruption, lack of freedom of expression, lack of transparency and accountability, chronic top down approach, failure to deliver promised basic social services, and the absence of rule of law and participatory development.
The day ended with a discussion on the role of violence in social change. After all this learning we are all looking forward to the next day’s final presentation by the Ecology group.
Karen Maturure turned 24 during summer school! She works as Junior Project Officer in the Open team at Hivos Southern Africa Hub in Zimbabwe, where she assists with the management of Human Rights Fund Projects. Previously she worked as project coordinator at UNFPA Zimbabwe and at Urban Space. She has a BA Development Studies from Midlands State University, Zimbabwe.