Science & Theatre – relationality starts with us

Last meeting with some of the project’s members.

Relationality, community and affection between members of the project occur in many ways, one of which is, in an interdisciplinary team, learning from each other. In our FoRel, science and theatre merge creating new possibilities for the process of (co)producing knowledge and for knowledge itself, Dadivo José and Christopher Cheupe from the teams in Mozambique and Kenya, respectively, shared and educated us about theatre, their trajectories and the importance of this approach in their respective countries.

Chris shared how the theatre has been used in research and dialogues between academia and communities and taught us about different participatory theatre types. He also shared his trajectory within the theatre and how he feels confident today, being a facilitator who makes sure to understand about the subject being dealt with and about the local context.

Dadivo, in turn, taught us how theatre has been used through the history of Mozambique since pre-colonial times to spread information and educate the population. He also told us about the use of theatre as a healing process. This theatrical healing process occurs with the audience (also in the community), and the actors. Dadivo shared how himself went through this transformative process, healing the traumas of the Civil War. Whoever is involved with theatre in Mozambique would ask at some point: “are we healing from the trauma by forgetting or remembering?”.

In both cases, the theatre has been used effectively to promote informative campaigns and raise awareness about different topics. Another point in common between the two presentations was that language in theatre must respect the local language and “context language”. However, as they put it, theatre allows us to create a safe space where local histories can be told. For them, one way to deal with sensitive themes or even with local power structures (for example, gender issues), is to use songs, dances and humour.

The FoRel project is immensely grateful for having professionals of such sensitivity, knowledge and competence, which allows us to learn whenever we meet and enriches the relationality of our project.


Relacionalidade, comunidade e afeto acadêmico entre membros do projeto dá-se de muitas maneiras, uma delas é, no nosso time interdisciplinar, a aprendizagem entre o grupo. Em nosso FoRel, no qual a ciência e o teatro se fundem e criam novas possibilidades de produção de conhecimento e um novo conhecimento, Dadivo José do time de Moçambique e Christopher Cheupe do Quenia, compartilharam suas trajetórias e  nos educaram sobre teatro e a importância dessa abordagem em seus respectivos países. 

Chris compartilhou como o teatro vem sendo utilizado em pesquisas e diálogos entre academia e comunidade, além de apresentar os diferentes tipos de teatro de participação realizados no Quênia. Também compartilhou a sua própria trajetória dentro do teatro e como hoje ele se sente seguro em sendo um facilitador que, segundo ele, precisa entender sobre teatro, sobre o tema tratado e sobre o contexto local. 

Dadivo, por sua vez, nos ensinou como o teatro vem sendo utilizado na história de Moçambique, desde de tempos pré-coloniais para difundir informação e educar a população, bem como a utilização do teatro de hoje dia, considerada como um processo de cura. Esse processo teatral de cura ocorre com a audiência (a comunidade que se apresenta), e também com seus atores. Dadivo compartilhou como ele próprio passou por esse processo transformador, curando os traumas da Guerra Civil, “estamos nos curando do trauma esquecendo ou lembrando dele?”.

Em ambos os casos o teatro vem sendo utilizado de maneira efetiva para promover campanhas informativas e aumentar a consciência sobre temas diversos. Outro ponto em comum entre as duas palestras foi o fato de que a linguagem no teatro deve respeitar a Língua e linguagem (contexto) local. Entretanto, O teatro nos permite criar esse local seguro para contar a história local. E uma maneira para se lidar com temas sensíveis ou até mesmo com as estruturas de poder locais (por exemplo, gênero), compartilhado por eles, é a utilização de canções, danças e humor.

O projeto FoRel é imensamente grato por contar com profissionais de tamanha sensibilidade, conhecimento e competência, que nos permite aprender sempre que nos reunimos e que enriquece o projeto relacional dentro da relacionalidade do nosso projeto.  

Short Interviews – Caroline Abunge on Relationality

Here we present a series of short interviews with some of those involved in the project during which we discuss their perspectives on the relational approach that is at the core of the project. We talk about how it has influenced, influences and/or will influence their work. With these interviews, we investigate whether relationality might allow us to cross academic barriers and even the frontier between research (work) and the daily and personal lives of those who start to think from this perspective.

Caroline Abunge is a socio-economic research scientist involved in publications with the Wildlife Conservation Society Marine program and part of the FoRel Kenya’s team. She has been working with Coastal communities on various projects encouraging sustainability of coral reef fisheries through fish landings monitoring, seeking perceptions of resource users on different conservation options and active feedback of the research findings to same communities and stakeholders. She is also part of the current FoRel fieldwork in Msambweni. 

1- What impressed you most about your fieldwork?
The respondent’s excitement about the methodology. They were happy to know that the result of the surveys is to have theater play to help them understand the concept of climate change better.

2- What was a surprise factor in the field?
Despite the major changes in the fishery sector, over 80% of respondents did not want to leave fishery but supplement their marine related activity with another job. The community was very free to talk about their social changes and challenges.

2.1- What did you expect to find and did not find?
Some willingness to leave fishery for other occupations with better returns.

2.2- What did you not expect to find but found?
Despite the helping culture in the muslim community and religion, fishers got very little help from their wealthy and capable friends and other family members. This was because fishing was considered unprofitable therefore nobody wanted to put their money in it. It was considered as both very important as an employment opportunity but very useless as it made no difference to those involved.

3- What did you think was different about doing fieldwork with a relational perspective?
The deeper understanding of daily activities. Apart from knowing what one does, we get to know when, how, with whom; these three elements are unique to this project and not found in others.

4- What are your thoughts so far, would you like to add something?
I could have been interesting to investigate all different activities in the community. It was mostly marine, and other activities came out as partial or alternative livelihoods thus not discussed in details.

Thank you!

Short Interviews – Christopher Cheupe on Relationality

Here we present a series of short interviews with some of those involved in the project during which we discuss their perspectives on the relational approach that is at the core of the project. We talk about how it has influenced, influences and/or will influence their work. With these interviews, we investigate whether relationality might allow us to cross academic barriers and even the frontier between research (work) and the daily and personal lives of those who start to think from this perspective.

Christopher Cheupe – FoRel project research Assistant, Kenya. He has been working with the Wildlife Conservation Society in a project called SPACES, where they used theatre to share the results for the community involved. The SPACES project has Tim Daw as a PI. Tim is also a member of the FoRel Team. Chris has conducted his fieldwork in Msambweni, during July and October 2020.   

1- What can you say about your fieldwork, what impressed you most about your fieldwork?
“There are so many things that impressed me during the fieldwork, especially when we arrived in Msambweni, where we collected our data. I was impressed about the beach management Unit officials, they are very new to the office because the election was done last year, so they are still new to the office, but they do very well. They were very ready to help us in organizing our work so we could conduct our fieldwork in a peaceful environment, so the BMU officials were ready to work with us. Secondly, the community members also impressed me, because after introducing the project to them, we had a meeting with the community leaders, for them to later share the meeting deliberations and FoRel project information to the members of the community. So, I was impressed with them too, because they were happy and ready to participate in the project so that it can realize its objectives. Another thing I was impressed was… for most of the respondents was their first time to participate in the research project. They have never been engaged in any kind of research; thus their first time sharing their new ideas. So, I was surprised, because having a new project, having new BMU Officials and new ideas coming to them and from the participants. Participants could effectively share their perceptions. So, these are the things that really impressed me throughout the fieldwork.”

2- What was the surprising factor for you in the fieldwork, something that surprised you?
“What surprised me was the issue of the community members, their willingness to participate. Everyone we came across was ready to take part in the interview […] we could have interviewed everyone if time and money could allow us, everybody was ready to do the interview and share information without fear. The information they gave us is very, very, very rich. Another surprise was the issue of climate change, for example, the issue of sea-level rise, which was clear, and the participants were able to perceive that change happening in that community.”

2.1 Maybe you have already mentioned, but could you tell us what did you not expect to find but found?
“One thing we collected our data during the period of the COVID19 which affected everyone. The movement from one region to another region was restricted by the government, from Mombasa especially, because it was the hotspot from the COVID19. So, we thought that maybe the participants would not want to participate in the interview with us because we were from Mombasa, and there were a lot of cases of COVID19… Then, we thought that it would be a little bit difficult, but on the contrary, they were ready, they were eager to take part in the project. We also followed all the COVID19 government guidelines of the preventive measures and the WCS COVID 19 protocols, so we were ready to give them face masks during the interviews and also manage to respect the social distance. […]”

I see, the COVID19 situation was not expected and you faced it during the fieldwork, but also, on the other hand, the response of the participants and their willingness to participate in the research was something that you even did not expect to find there and you found! So, there is a double way to see it, something you expect to find, their resistance and did not find! And it can be a very nice example to observe how the participants can play a fundamental role when it comes to finding solutions in the field!

3- I would like to ask you about the relational perspective. What did you think was different about doing fieldwork with a relational perspective?
“For this is the aspect of interviewing people in the same assemblage and understanding the changes the people in the community perceive… Unlike other research that I have been doing, the socio-ecological aspect, the ecological network with social makes this project unique. So, I am happy to see this connection between man and nature in this relational approach and this in this project is what makes it unique than other projects.”

4- Do you like to share some thoughts or if would you like to add something now is the time!
“Ok! Maybe I could just say something, it is just one observation about the fieldwork, the community or the participants really like this project, and they are eagerly waiting for the feedback, especially the theatre part. All the participants that we interview are willing to be part of the feedback meeting and the theatre that we are going to share the information that we receive from them. So, they are very willing to become part of it and to act. And I believe that they are in a better position to do it well because they are ones who understand better about their problem and they are in a better position to suggest also the so-called solutions for their problems. So, those who do not want to participate in the community theatre they want to participate as an audience, but this audience will also become actors! From me is this, it is what I want to say… The majority wants to be involved in the research, and they are very happy to be part and see the new management of the bay, so it is a plus to the community this project, and I believe that at the end of this project the community will be at another level.”

Thank you!

Short Interviews – Taís González on Relationality

Here we present a series of short interviews with some of those involved in the project during which we discuss their perspectives on the relational approach that is at the core of the project. We talk about how it has influenced, influences and/or will influence their work. With these interviews, we investigate whether relationality might allow us to cross academic barriers and even the frontier between research (work) and the daily and personal lives of those who start to think from this perspective.

Taís González is finishing her master’s degree in Social-Ecological Resilience for Sustainable Development at the Stockholm Resilience Center. She conducted her traineeship within the FoRel project between May and August 2019, when she travelled to Inhaca island to begin fieldwork in Mozambique.

1- O que mais te marcou no seu trabalho de campo? / What impressed you most about your fieldwork?
O contato com as pessoas é algo que sempre me inspira. Acredito que ter sido recebi na Ilha da Inhaca com tanto carinho e ter podido interegir e aprender com os habitantes daquele lugar foi o que mais me marcou no meu trabalho de campo. Todos foram tão receptivos, curiosos e participativos que o meu trabalho, no campo, tornou-se mais fácil.

I believe that connecting with people is something that always inspires me. I think that being welcome on Inhaca island with such affection, being able to interact and learn from its inhabitants was what most impressed me during fieldwork. Everyone was so receptive, curious and wanted to participate in the project, which resulted into my work in the field becoming easier.

2- O que foi um fator surpresa no campo? / What was a surprise factor in the field?
Houveram muitos elementos surpresas, com toda a certeza…

There were many surprises, for sure…

2.1- O que você esperava encontrar e não encontrou? / What did you expect to find and did not find?
Mas seu eu tivesse que escolher algo que eu não esperava encontrar foi resistência da comunidade e das autoridades locais em receber e projeto abraçar o projeto. 

But if I had to choose something that I did expect to face, but did not happen, it would be the resistance from the community and local authorities to receive and embrace the project.

2.2- O que não esperava encontrar, mas encontrou? / What did you not expect to find but found?
Duas coisas aconteceram comigo que servem de lição de “trabalho de campo”, para todo o sempre na minha vida agora. Primeiro, depois de uma semana em Moçambique e segundo dia na Ilha eu quebro o meu celular. Não consegui utilizar o touch-screen o resto da viagem. Eu tinha que abastecer as reder sociais do projeto e além do mais, o WhatsApp é a forma mais rápida de comunicação – eu tinha a versão online conectada com essas mídias e o que eu fiz foi deixar o meu celular carregado o tempo todo para que ele não desligasse. E eu tive que “alugar” um celular analógico de um local. Aprendi que eu devo mesmo deixar tudo conectado e que o ideal é levar um celular antigo para emergências!
Segundo, eu fiquei doente na Ilha, levei uma picada e passei uns 3-4 dias com febres e muito cansada. Eu não tinha levado muitas medicações de casa e o atendimento no hospital local foi exelente, mas dependendo de onde o trabalho de campo se desenvolver é fundamental levar medicamentos que você esteja acostumado e um kit primeiro-socorro!

Two things happened to me that will serve me as “fieldwork” lessons forever and ever in my life now. First, after a week in Mozambique and the second day on the Island, I broke my cell phone. I was unable to use the touch-screen for the rest of the trip. This was a problem particularly because I had to feed the project’s social networks; moreover, WhatsApp is the fastest form of communication in the field and to keep me in touch with the team back in Stockholm and my family and friends – I had the online version connected to my laptop and this is what saved me! I had to leave my phone charging all the time, and I “rented” an analogue cell phone from someone in the community. I learned that I really should leave everything synced (cell and laptop) and that the ideal is to always have an old cell phone for emergencies!
Second, I got sick and spent about 3-4 days with fevers, feeling really tired. I had not taken many medications with me, but the care at the local hospital was excellent. Still, depending on where the fieldwork is taking place, it is essential to have medications you are used to and a first aid kit!

3- O que você achou de diferente em realizar um trabalho de campo com uma perspectiva relacional? / What did you think was different about doing fieldwork with a relational perspective?
A princípio foi confuso, pela minha tendência de pensar nas entidades primeiro do que as relações – eu vejo como o ego e o eu batalhando para estar neste local de destaque e a partir do eu outras formas aparecem, como as formas de relacionamento. Pensar que o local, o mar, o barco, as ferramentas de pesca ou a terra, as ferramentas de agricultura, os animais essas relações constitúem os participantes da pesquisa. E essa, é uma maneira totalmente diferente de pensar, sentir e perceber a realidade – também o trabalho de campo e se perceber no trabalho de campo.

At first, it was confusing, due to my tendency to think of entities more than relationships – I see how the ego and the self struggle to be in a prominent place and departing from the self, other forms appear, such as the relationship forms. Thinking that the place, the sea, the boat, the fishing tools or the land, the agricultural tools, the animals, these relations constitute the participants of the research. And this is a totally different way of thinking, feeling and perceiving reality – also fieldwork – and perceiving yourself in fieldwork.

4- Quais as suas reflexões até agora, e você gostaria de acrescentar algo mais? / What are your thoughts so far, would you like to add something?
Eu percebi que a pesquisa dentro da perspectiva relacional me tirou do foco e da escurião da objetividade da academia tradicional. Revelou que sou parte da pesquisa e que a pesquisa se faz parte de mim também, me transformou de certa maneira. O mesmo eu acredito que ocorreu com todos aqueles que me relacionei em Inhaca e Maputo – nos fundimos em determinado ponto e isso traz tantas oportunidade de aprendizado. Pensar que essas relacões me constitúem faz com que eu abrace as incertezas e as trocas fiquem mais leves, mais fluídas e que eu entende que estamos todos juntos nesse desdobrar como uma mandala com suas cores, que se desdobram e formam novos desenhos, com novas cores – são novas oportunidades e novas estampas que estão continuamente se formando.

I realized that research from a relational perspective took me out of the focus and darkness of the objectivity of traditional academia. It revealed that I am part of the research and it is part of me too, it has transformed me in some way. I believe the same thing happened to all those I related to in Inhaca and Maputo – we merged at a certain point, and this brings so many learning opportunities. Thinking that these relationships constitute me makes me embrace uncertainties and exchanges become lighter, more fluid and I understand that we are all together in this unfolding like a mandala with its colours, which unfold and form new designs, with new colours – there are new opportunities and new patterns that are continuously forming.