Title: The Sense of Community Building. An educational research excercise of Brussels' Zinneke Parade
Other Titles: De zinnigheid van gemeenschapsvorming. Een educatieve onderzoeksoefening van de Brusselse Zinneke Parade
Authors: Reyskens, Peter
Issue Date: 15-Nov-2016
Abstract: In this doctoral research, we ask ourselves whether a pedagogy engaging in the theory and practice of community building still makes sense today. We wonder what the sense and meaning of community building could be. Or, put differently, how community building could still make sense in the current conditions of diversity and urbanity. We undertake this research guided by the case of the Brussels’s Zinneke Parade. The Zinneke Parade is not a one day event. It is an intensive collaboration in which heterogeneously composed groups work together during months in order to build an artistic parade in Brussels.
In this research we argue that a normative approach to community building has come to an end in the current conditions of diversity and urbanity. Diversity and urbanity entail a situation in which it is no longer clear how we can educate people for life in the community. There are no longer shared norms and values that serve as a basis for life in the community. Starting point for this research is a rethinking of the ideal of community. We understand community as our being with others that makes us who we are, but that at the same time cannot be defined and realized as project or work. We found inspiration in Jean-Luc Nancy’s rethinking of our being in community as an inessential togetherness or as an inoperative community.
The rethinking of community as a shared and at the same time divided existence has an important influence on our way of understanding and doing community building research. We can no longer research community building practices as something that may or may not be successful in realising a predetermined ideal form of community. We do not longer assume to know in advance what the ideal community would be. We understand that researching community building can be a way to trace how living together in diversity takes form in practice. Community building research is seen as a confrontation with practices by which the researcher is challenged to witness new forms of community and to find words to express these new forms of community.
In this research we focus on two practices of the Brussels’ Zinneke Parade: the workshops and the parade. People with very different backgrounds collaborate in the Zinneke Parade in order to build an artistic parade in the centre of Brussels. We observed numerous workshops in which people are engaged with constructing and designing the parade, and we made video-recordings of the parade. These registrations help us to trace and express new forms of community. The workshop is presented in our research as the space where relations are determined by the process of giving form to the parade. The workshops show how giving form to costumes, wagons, choreography’s and so on also gives form to the way of being together. The parade in the Brussels’ city centre shows a new form of parading. Togetherness in the parade is presented as an urban way of being together that differs from traditional identity parades, carnival parades or commercial parades.
Our search for the sense of community building today leads to the conclusion that community building practices have everything to do with the sense of our existence in the conditions of diversity and urbanity. We propose to understand the pedagogy of community building as pedagogy of exposure to the sense of existence with others. We call community building practices pedagogical practices when they expose us to our mere existence with others and with the world, which makes sense of itself and exceeds any rational plan or foundation. On the basis of our research into the Zinneke Parade we suggest that community building practitioners can make three interventions in order to expose us to our existence with each other and with the world as an existence that exceeds any plan our foundation. We name those three interventions: bringing people into a mêlée, making the world available and inciting gestures.
Publication status: accepted
KU Leuven publication type: TH
Appears in Collections:Education and Society

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