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Interfaith Childhoods

Explore how people expressed their sense of belonging to certain cities in Australia and the UK in the Interfaith Childhoods research project.
© RMIT Europe, EIT Community and New European Bauhaus

The Interfaith Childhoods project, led by Professor Anna Hickey-Moody, investigated the ways people felt they belonged to certain cities in Australia and the UK. Specifically, the research explored the perceptions of children and their families in lower socio-economic communities in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide in Australia, and London and Manchester in the UK.

This project brought arts workshops to schools and community centres with little or no funding for art lessons, and used the workshops as motivators for discussing and discovering stories of belonging through aesthetic means. These stories were shared through film, animation, art and media, as a way of developing public understandings of what belonging feels like in multicultural cities. Watch any 5 minute segment of the the Animating Identity video below to get a good sample of the project.

Animating Identity, Belonging and Faith from Interfaith Childhoods on Vimeo.

Animating Identity, Belonging and Faith

This video is part of the final round of workshops with children of the Interfaith Childhoods project, where they were asked to design animations of their identity. Through the making of these animations, there is greater understanding of:

  • visible and invisible identity
  • what makes people feel attached to certain people and places
  • where and how people feel the strongest sense of belonging.

Exploring belonging through art making with children under 10, and hearing stories from their parents, contextualises belonging and helps the understanding of how the politics of belonging begins from a very young age.

Below are some examples of the children’s art:

Refugee tent artwork made by a child. Used by permission.

This photo is of a refuge tent made by a child. The children were asked to make things to put in the tents that really mattered to them and made them feel at home.

Future city artwork created by six children. Used by permission.

This is a future city created by six children working together. It demonstrates a range of shared community buildings, including affordable housing, places of worship for many different faiths and a large medical facility.

Manchester ‘Future Cities’ children’s artwork. Used by permission.

These images are of ‘Future Cities’ made in Manchester, where children were asked to design cities around what really mattered to them. The cities they designed involved social housing, a large medical centre, churches, mosques, sometimes flying cars and ice cream machines; and yet often included very practical elements of cities like green parks and schools.

Reflecting on these future cities with the children, the researchers were able to point out the aesthetic elements of the children’s art; and ask them why they chose to highlight certain things related to belonging.

Manchester child’s self-portrait. Used by permission.

This is a photo of a self portrait, which was created by a participant in a workshop in Manchester. The phrase ‘sharing is caring’ is clearly positioned at the centre of the image. This phrase illustrates what the participant values the most. In the workshop, children were asked to describe things about themselves, and to highlight aspects of their identity which mattered to them more than anything. Sharing was a key ‘personality trait’ or aspect of this child’s identity. Here they have drawn images with another person, who might have been a sibling or a friend.

Your task

Reflect on the section of the video you watched. Make some notes about the invisible aspects of identity that are key to shaping the children’s experiences of belonging. These might include language, religion, or heritage.

Now think about the extent to which these invisible identity characteristics demonstrate intersectionality. This might be through the connection of different ethnicities, languages, belief systems which are parts of intersectional identities.

Some aspects of the video, such as the sound, give clues about class and geographic location. Are these parts of an intersectional identity? And if you think so, write down a few points about your own invisible identity. What are some things that people cannot see, but which make you who you are?

© RMIT Europe, EIT Community and New European Bauhaus
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