The Possibilities and Limitations of Using Drama to Facilitate a Sense of Belonging for Adult Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants in East London
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There is symbiosis between theatre and belonging. This thesis examines the ways in which a sense of belonging can be more effectively facilitated for adult refugees, asylum seekers, migrants and their families through drama practices rooted in a relational ethic of care. Findings engendered by practice-based research projects in the London Boroughs of Hackney, Barking and Dagenham and Redbridge are articulated by this thesis. These projects, carried out between 2008 and 2010, were framed as creative approaches to English language learning and were developed in partnership with the charities Lifeline Projects and the Open Doors Project. They modelled access for all regardless of age or English speaking ability, focusing on participant-centred play and improvisation. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the impact of UK government policy on the lived experience of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants and their negative representation across different media has resulted in a need to develop alternative strategies for support that work in conjunction with agencies and voluntary sector organisations and fulfil a need for a sense of belonging from their clients. My methodologies have included practice-based research, interviews with participants and other practitioners and reading across the fields of performance studies, relational ethics, psychology and education. I identify ‘practice’ in practice-based research as professional practice consonant with the fields of health and social care. The theoretical frameworks I am working within include: Brown’s (2010) definition of genuine belonging; Pettersen’s (2008) mature, reciprocal care; Maslow’s (1954) hierarchy of need; Krashen’s (1983) theory of adult second language acquisition and Thompson’s (2009) argument for the radical potential of joy and beauty. The thesis addresses the need for a greater understanding of the practices which generate authentic belonging in drama and second language education outside a formal education context.
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