Posted on: 31st January, 2014
14th June, 2021
Dr Alessandro Mazzola (Guildhall School)
This event is presented in association with the Institute for Social Impact Research in the Performing Arts
The 2015–18 refugee reception crisis featured strong civil society engagement in Europe. Organisations and individual volunteers played a key role in integrating the field practices of the state-mandated actors in charge of the reception and accommodation of asylum seekers. In many instances, the civil society represented the sole provider of services oriented towards the sociocultural integration of newcomer asylum seekers.
Artistic practices were often employed by volunteers to establish ties and relationships with these migrants. Practitioners, artists and culture professionals designed and facilitated workshops involving visual and performing arts to be offered to asylum seekers in reception centres. The principles that motivated such activity revolved around an idea that being involved in the arts would help participants to relieve from post-traumatic stress, cope with gruelling wait and uncertainty for their asylum application, and ultimately find their place and voice in the society starting to integrate in local communities.
Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted during the 2015–18 refugee reception crisis, Dr Alessandro Mazzola will critically discuss the impact of music-based participatory projects involving the residents of collective reception centres in Belgium. He will argue that the objectives of such projects, as well as the initial and final outcomes intended by the volunteers who designed and facilitated them, are often not shared by participant migrants, who hold specific priorities, motivations and objectives that are not aligned with the volunteer’s expectations. Such discrepancy determined that the whole context could become a source of disappointment and frustration for all actors involved.