Since 2008 Gillian Howell (AU) has worked to understand how music interacts with and contributes to social and cultural change in settings of major societal upheaval, transition or changes of crisis. Connecting lines between music and hope is the headline for her keynote message which draws on examples from Afghanistan and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Gillian Howell shows how hope is configured in different ways through music. She refers to music education at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music in Kabul as an example on how music contributes in complex contexts.
For the Arts in Action: Urgencies in Art and Art Education Symposium Gillian Howell has prepared the contribution:
The many peaces of music: How musicians, artists, arts educators and arts researchers can help to build a more peaceful world:
“One of the great urgencies in the world is the fragile state of peace. Few would dispute that there is a need to bolster and strengthen peace: whether in seemingly peaceful countries or in the aftermath of violent conflict, peace is a global concern and a cornerstone of sustainable development and flourishing human lives. Many musicians, artists, arts educators, and promoters are eager to support peace through their creative work. Ensuring this is done in critically informed and effective ways is a work in progress, however, and there is a lack of shared conceptual or theoretical frameworks for investigating and articulating the peacebuilding contributions that creative activities may foster
In this presentation, I will offer some examples of concrete ways that musical activities can help to build peace. I begin with the premise that peace is best understood as existing in varieties, rather than as a single, universal concept. I’ll propose six varieties of peace that my research has shown that music-making can foster, and I’ll highlight four important variables—concerning the participant cohort, the intended audience for the peace outcomes, the opportunities for independent friendships to form, and the extent to which the musical activity engages with the extant conflict or politics—that help to differentiate between the types of peace (or peaces) and bring greater nuance to music-based peacebuilding research and practice. Together, the peaces and variables reduce some of the conceptual ambiguity of peace, and provide a framework and vocabulary that can support a more critical engagement with possibilities, limitations, and conditions of creative contributions to peacebuilding. While music is the focus of my talk, the peaces I’ll discuss are also applicable to other creative arts.”