The Hub for the Study of Hybrid Communication in Peacebuilding (HCPB) hosted a virtual session on Street Art and Murals in Peacebuilding on 16 March. Our session featured exciting presentations by two of our Hub members.

Birte Vogel, Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (UoM), gave a paper entitled ‘Money over message? A political economy perspective of street art in conflict-affected societies’ which explores in how far livelihood considerations and funding implications impact on artistic freedom and messaging. Drawing on research in in post-war Colombia, the paper explores how street art provides an alternative income to drug dealing and a way out of poverty for some artists. In Medellin, many streets are flooded with (commissioned) pieces of art: some are to beautify touristic neighbourhoods or providing distinct and noticeable advertisements for hostels and restaurants. Others emerged more organically, and directly link to the conflict and Colombians’ desire for peace, and the idea that artists produce pieces as a form of resistance against different forms of violence. Analysing the graffiti tours of Comuna 13 and neighbouring areas, this presentation focused on the quetsion of whether and to what extent street art changes from a process of resistance and expression to a curated product to be consumed.

Struan Kennedy, PhD candidate at Northumbria University, gave a presentation entitled ”The ”Derry Lama”: A Portrait of Change’. Struan presented  several key aspects of his current PhD research on masculinities and murals in loyalist Northern Ireland. These will be discussed in reference to a very recent addition to the symbolic landscape. By using this piece, ‘The Derry Lama’, as an exemplary case study, I intend to give specific shape and form to theory and explore why its appearance signals a move in a positive direction for the troubled region.

Intrigued? Watch our session here!