International Conference Aesthetics of Transformation: Arts Education Research and the Challenge of Cultural Sustainability, 5/2/18 – 5/5/18

Transcultural Aesthetic Practices in the Classroom: Sounds, Spaces, Bodies

The German word Bildung is not translatable into English in a straight-forward manner; maybe formation (not education) comes fairly close. In our research project »Transcultural Practices in Postmigrant Theatre and in Schools« we understand Bildung as transformation of self- and world-relations. Our research focus is on the aesthetic transformative practices in postmigrant theatre productions and in the context of the classroom (not necessarily arts classes) at three schools in Germany. We investigate these fields of research as arenas of transcultural interaction, and analyze how (personal and historical) stories of migration are aesthetically performed, negotiated and staged.

In this lecture Carla J. Maier and Elise v. Bernstorff present some findings from one of our case studies at a secondary school. We focus on school as soundscape & sensory space, exploring the sonic, visual and bodily methods that evoke processes of (trans-)cultural and social negotiation, performance and formation. We ask: What are the strategies of the teacher to orchestrate the many voices, noises, the bodily and verbal actions, and the use of things and media in the classroom? And what are the specific aesthetic practices that the pupils develop to form, irritate, and negotiate their ethnic, gendered, class-related identities? It is our aim to analyze the complex and interwoven transcultural aspects, which cannot be allocated along ethnical and national demarcations. We thus want to shed light on how cultural or transcultural knowledge and learning is currently discussed, imparted and studied and how we can explore transcultural educational practices (Transkulturelle Bildungspraktiken).

Based on our fieldwork, we develop new ethnographic techniques – performative description and drawing as extension of the photographic view – that seek to extend classic ethnographic methods. Furthermore, the study draws from interdisciplinary perspectives such as material feminism, artistic research methods, and sound studies. We thus aim at developing a sensory ethnography for the study of performative aesthetic practices in the context of migration discourses.

The conference took place in Nuremberg, Germany.