[video width="960" height="540" mp4="http://www.care-cca.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/IMG_29512.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.
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.
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 By: Kang Sun, Daniel Teo, and Sarah Comer While China’s economic development is no news to anyone, the social cost of such development is yet to be explored. Kang’s project focuses on the rural villages where elderly family members have been left behind by their adult children working in cities. In this social background, elderly villagers’ everyday health conditions and care (or lack thereof) become a social critique of economic development.
“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.
As I walked into the HIV/AIDS Alliance office in Hyderabad, India, I met Vijay Nair, Program Manager, Pehchan, who appeared distressed. Shaking my hand, he said it is a ‘black day’ for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community in India. I did not immediately grasp what he meant. He explained that the Supreme court of India had rejected a progressive Delhi High court judgement that decriminalised Section 377, an 1861 colonial law banning same-sex behaviour among consenting adults, which is punishable upto 10-years in prison. Instead, the Supreme Court wanted the Indian Parliament to change the law.