“I embroider the beauty that is my head and not the dead trees around me” art heritage and resilience in South Sudan: a gendered view

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Purpose - The fundamental relationship between art and resilience is striking in this passage and in the reflections shared by other artists. This paper aims to attempt to piece together the fragmented and insecure realities in South Sudan through the lens of different artists. The paper argues that focusing on art is an important way into a deeper more nuanced picture of how women and men find and maintain resilience in humanitarian contexts.

Design/methodology/approach - The data is qualitatively collected through an innovative art-based creative method known as story circles. The circles consisted of artists who shared what their art form meant to them.

Findings - The picture that emerges contrasts starkly against the dark narratives that commonly portray South Sudan. Art making spaces and the outputs that come from them are cultural resources often overlooked by humanitarian stakeholders and yet, as the authors show, hold the potential to support more locally rooted and responsive approaches to resilience building.

Originality/value - Very little research has been conducted on the ways in which people in South Sudan draw on and find resilience in art and art making.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Humanities and Applied Social Sciences
Early online date21 Aug 2023
Publication statusEarly online - 21 Aug 2023


  • gender
  • violence
  • art
  • South Sudan

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