Forum theater to enhance joint agency in Kenya and Mozambique: towards relational understandings of climate change

Keywords: relational and process perspectives, coastal communities, community theatre, assemblages, distributed agency

Project participants:

Maria Mancilla-Garcia, Tilman HertzElizabeth Drury O’Neill and Tim Daw from Stockholm Resilience Centre together with Salomao Bandeira and Marlino Mumbai from Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique, Halimu Shuari from Pwani University in Kenya and Caroline Abunge and Nyawira Muthiga from the Wildlife Conservation Society in Kenya.

Funders:Swedish Research Council, SIDA, FORTE, and FORMAS.

About the project

Coastal communities in East Africa face multiple challenges that threaten their well-being, perpetuate inequalities and lead to unsustainable management of natural resources. Among such challenges, climate change needs to be understood as part of social-ecological complex problems characterized by interdependencies, conflicting interests and contested perceptions. This understanding highlights that stakeholders are embedded in a multiplicity of social and ecological relations and processes. Yet, current environmental governance approaches are frequently based on the hypothesis that humans, perceived as rational and independent individual decision makers, are the managers of ecosystems exterior to them. The contrast between the current research frontier on social-ecological systems – which presents processes and relations as key to understand those systems – and the governance approaches we have to manage them, might explain why such tools fail to tackle the sustainability challenge.

The main purpose of this project is to enhance the collective agency of poor coastal communities in Kenya and Mozambique, to respond to likely impacts of climate change and economic development. This project will explore, through community theatre, which relationships and daily practices among those that actors are embedded in can be conceived as a tool to enhance joint agency for climate change adaptation, promoting an understanding of climate change as embedded in a multiplicity of existing challenges. Indeed, the project aims at highlighting which factors are perpetuating inequalities and unsustainable exploitation of resources and in which ways climate change is intertwined with those. The project proposes a relational perspective on community theatre (also called applied, participatory, or site-specific theatre) that can help reveal the underlying causes of vulnerability while suggesting ways to address them.

Want to know more? Email maria.mgarcia — @ —

This project will start towards the spring of 2019 and is still in its planning phase!