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Art and Creativity for HIV/AIDS Awareness, Prevention, and Empowerment of Young People in Uganda

SSEWANYANA, ROBERT (2023) Art and Creativity for HIV/AIDS Awareness, Prevention, and Empowerment of Young People in Uganda. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



Art, youth engagement and informality in the context of HIV prevention have been generally ignored by most researchers and stakeholders within the HIV programming and policy arenas, thus silencing the plight of urban youth infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS. In response, this thesis draws on the case of peri-urban settings of Kampala, Uganda to bring geographies of applied sculpture, HIV/AIDS prevention, and youth empowerment into dialogue, informed by the notions of art having the capacity to move beyond the spaces of galleries into an expanded field, and thus, beyond the visual and into the social spheres. In liaison with local NGOs (The Uganda AIDS Support Organisation - TASO, National Guidance and Empowerment Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS - NGEN+ and Lungujja Community based Health care Organisation – LUCOHECO, it adopts a mixed methodological approach, including applied art and participatory techniques - observation, video, storytelling, and interviews, to understand the lived experiences of young people (15-24 years) in marginalized spaces in Kampala. The thesis first examines the general context of using ethnography and applied social sculpture to explore every day experiences by facilitating the engagement of young people in open communication about the epidemic. This is intended to enable them to act in confronting stigma, taboos, and their precarious existence, while raising their awareness about HIV/AIDS. The thesis then explores the everyday precarious existence of young people in informal settings in Kampala. It proceeds to examine how workshops with these young people allowed collective engagement which, in turn, influenced the creation of artworks envisioned to act as communication tools for raising awareness of HIV/AIDS with the potential for livelihood benefits. Finally, the thesis examines young people’s active involvement in participatory workshops for HIV/AIDS prevention, providing ethnographic evidence regarding the artmaking process, the conversations that ensued as they worked, and the creation of applied objects/forms that enabled them to build their confidence to freely express about the precarities affecting their lives, countering taboos, and encouraging them to change their behaviours and practices while potentially acting as change agents in their own communities. It highlights the significance of stimulating open conversations about HIV/AIDS - as a starting point towards confronting stigma and other aspects of precarity, while advocating for the incorporation of the approach into practice by public health experts, policymakers, and development practitioners. The thesis shows the strengths of applied sculpture as an approach that has potential for making sense of ordinary everyday experiences, finding meaning and crafting clarity of young people’s lived experiences in the context of HIV/AIDS. It concludes that applied sculpture is potentially an important tool in tackling HIV/AIDS and its attendant problems by engendering and facilitating open conversations and social economic development through an engagement with the voices and agency of young people in Uganda and beyond.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Art, creativity, HIV/AIDS, Prevention, Young people,
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Anthropology, Department of
Thesis Date:2023
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:07 Feb 2023 16:48

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