The article explores metaphor embedded in arts artefacts and processes as a highly effective space for transforming the attitudes and behaviours that support conflict.
Metaphor plays a crucial role in human cognition, and is a core component of what makes the arts creative. There is a growing body of evidence showing that arts processes can provide a safe, liminal space for perspective transformation to occur. This not only has implications for peacebuilding, but for a wide range of educative functions played in humanitarian and development action.
The article challenges the status quo of top-down approaches to working with marginalised communities.
Externally-led, top-down processes rarely produce sustainable shifts in attitudes and behaviours that can contribute to conflict and other challenges. By working with local metaphors, and building programmes from the bottom up, a more diverse range of voices can be heard, and participation in the deliberation required for sustainable, positive social change can be built upon a more solid foundation.
Findings suggest metaphor were instrumental in enabling sustainable, significant shifts in conflict repertories (Bar-Tal) by allowing participants to analyse conflict narratives, imagine alternatives, rehearse intended peace repertoires and codify new ideas for easy recall post-workshop. While shifts in repertoire and resulting behaviours were small, they were significant in motivating these Rakhine villagers to reinitiate cautious contact with Rohingya neighbours.