Breakin' Beats and Building Peace: Exploring the Effects of Music and Dance in Peacebuilding
Degree awarded: M.A. School of International Service. American University
Music and dance offer creative means through which victims of conflict can express their pain, find healing, and move toward reconciliation. But, these arts are generally overlooked within the peacebuilding field. Peacebuilding practitioners lack a thorough understanding of how to strategically incorporate them into their work. This is largely due to the scarcity of substantial theory and research on arts-based practices, especially music and dance-based initiatives. This thesis seeks to move beyond general, simplistic assumptions about these arts to a deeper analysis of how music and dance function in peacebuilding and what effects they elicit in victims of conflict. It does this through an analysis of interviews with nineteen peacebuilding practitioners who have used music and/or dance to promote peace across cultures and conflict contexts. This thesis outlines two different approaches as well as tangible and intangible effects of music and dance-based peacebuilding.