The nuts-and-bolts of building cultural resources for health in a Santali village, West Bengal

[video width="960" height="540" mp4=""][/video]   In 2008, the village of Piyalgeria in Jhargram, like many other villages in the area at the time, had erupted in protests against the extreme marginalization, poverty, and police harassment experienced by the Santali community in the region. Attacks on dignity of the Santali life were often voiced by community members as the underlying causes of the protests. When the CARE research team led by Prof. Mohan Dutta started working in the villages, one of the key questions guiding the culture-centered projects was: What, according to community members, is the source of health? Drawing then on this fundamental question, the CARE team collaborated with community members in identifying the challenges to health they experienced, and the potential solutions they envisioned. In the voices of community members, the dignity of Santali cultural life held the threads to good health. Thus started our collaborative journey in building a community cultural center as a health resource. This health center would serve as a space where the young and old participate in songs and dances. These songs and dances, in community voices, are repositories of health, healing and wellbeing. substandardfullsizerenderimg_3162

The Piyalgeria Community Center Construction

Prof Mohan gives an account on his project in the Piyalgeria Village where community members come together to materialise the idea of constructing local spaces for their activities through participatory workshops, designing surveys and village-level meetings . With the community's decision to build a local community center, the members took charge of the budget, the design and the labour of the project.

[Left Behind Families] Liu Village Dancing and Drumming

During his trip to the rural Liu village, Dr Kang Sun noticed how its traditional drumming and folk dancing practices are still active despite the condition of the settlement. He collaborated with the left-behind villagers to organise cultural activities as part of a healthy lifestyle and they were given the invitation to perform their drumming and dancing at the local carnival. Dr Kang documented the whole process in this short clip.

Drumming up Social Change

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Culturally-Centering Social Change: Notes from the CARE Lab

“Communication inequalities map out structural inequalities, and therefore, inverting these inequalities symbolically and materially lie at the heart of social change processes” notes Professor Mohan Dutta, Founding Director of the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE). CARE was inaugurated with the goal of developing social projects grounded in the culture-centered approach (CCA) developed by Dutta since the late 1990s, with an emphasis on empirically testing the key tenets of the approach in carrying out grassroots-driven social change processes, fine-tuning research design in implementing community-academic partnerships, and in theoretically outlining the processes of communication and culture that are intertwined in the development of social change processes, policies, and programs. Read More

‘Black Day’ for LGBT Rights in India

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