Youth weaving networks beyond community bordersLessons learned from Caja Lúdica, a community arts process and networking initiative in Guatemala

  • Miriam Jakel

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis examines a youth community arts network and Caja Lúdica, one ofits founder organisations, in post-conflict Guatemala, and argues that they notonly temporarily create spaces of encounter and community but through theirnetworking and exchange strategies have established a rhizomatic assemblage ofpractice characterised by its perseverance and its dispersed agency in differentpart of the country. As such, the thesis asks the following main three questions:What are the practices of Caja Lúdica and the Community Arts Network inGuatemala; what are youth protagonists' experiences; and what contribution cantheir practices make to debates on community arts in challenging environmentsbut also in other parts of the world? By using Deleuze and Guattari's rhizometheory it highlights notions of networking, local protagonism and collectivity askey for more sustainable practice with youth and by introducing these terms intoperformance and community arts scholarship, where they are scarcely explored,it makes a critical contribution to these fields.A methodological approach based on rhizomatic notions has fostered theconnection of a wide range of methods such as semi-structured interviews,participant observation, 'following' as a research method as well as photography,the latter two of which have been developed for researching this particularnetworking practice in Guatemala. By using a selected set of case studies, thisinvestigation aims to grasp the diversity and dynamics of this practice, inparticular its movement and expansion across community borders through itsyouth protagonists. These case studies include the exploration of a local youthgroup and their exchange activities as well as the observation of the Network'scollective rituals and public interventions.By doing so this thesis aims to emphasise the potential of youth as creativeprotagonists in challenging contexts and stresses the importance to furtherexamine their potential and ability to resist marginalisation and contribute to thereconstruction of the social fabric in war-affected communities and beyond. Itfurther proposes that a networking and more holistic approach to practice canfoster more sustainable community arts processes, not just in terms of decreasingexternal funding dependency and determination, but also to establish a practiceculture in and between initiatives based on collectivity, exchange and support,which becomes more important in times of austerity.
Date of Award1 Aug 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJames Thompson (Supervisor) & Jennifer Hughes (Supervisor)


  • rhizome
  • Guatemala
  • network
  • youth
  • Community Arts

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