Cécile Rousseau – Giving a Voice? Art, Exclusion and Caring Illusions (ASI 2015)

Giving a Voice? Art, Exclusion and Caring Illusions
Cécile Rousseau, Caroline Beauregard, Marie-France Gauthier, Anousheh Machouf & Tomas Sierra

In immigrant neighbourhoods, immigrant and refugee youth who attend special classes because of learning and behavioural difficulties, suffer from a double exclusion linked to their minority status and to their academic delay. This presentation will describe the implementation and the results of a randomized control trial to evaluate the efficacy of drama workshops to reduce the symptoms and impairment of youth in 30 special classes in Montréal. During the intervention, the structural violence and the hurt associated with exclusion were enacted by the youth and shattered the team and the teachers’ sense of safety. Although the results showed that the drama intervention was beneficial for first generation immigrants, they also suggested that the availability of an expression space may have reactivated feelings of impotence and anger associated with the life experience of second generation youth. These observations confirm the powerful role of art in the face of social exclusion, and suggest that in situations where impotence dominates and possibilities of transformation are slim, artistic expression may be considered as a doubled-edged sword.

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