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Our approach

Meaningful Engagement through the MCAT Toolkit is activated through the use of an art-based methodology called Cultural Animation, enriched by magic touchpoints of reflection about concepts of questioning, disruption, choice and context.

Cultural Animation

Cultural Animation was developed by two members of the MCAT team - Professor Mihaela Kelemen and Theatre Director Sue Moffat. It is based on the following key principles:

  • The encounter between the engager (i.e., organisations) and the engaged (i.e., women) is based on playfulness => the power of play, creativity and boundary objects is used to generate bottom-up stories and understandings of sensitive topics
  • Participants work together in activities (i.e., games) that start with a picture of the present and proceed with imagining a shared and desirable future
  • The approach is based on building trusting relationships and dissolving hierarchies among participants
  • Cultural Animation promotes multiple ways of knowing and different types of knowledge: experiential, practical, propositional and performative knowledge

Magic and Cultural Animation 

Magic has a long history extending from the ancient period until today, with several distinct strands in the history of ideas, its relationship to religion, science and the enlightenment, and as a cultural artefact, that transcends performance, philosophy, anthropology, and modern forms of metaphysics and epistemology.

For this research, we adopt a particular form of performance magic as a medium for communicating ideas, animating thoughts, and probing the concept of moral capability. We use magic as a metaphor that allows for significant touchpoints throughout the research project that relate to fundamental questions concerning free will, social justice, personal agency, pragmatism, doubt, and societal fragmentation.

Using the ‘boundary objects’ deployed in the cultural animation exercises, as well as other objects and tools drawn from the tradition of performance magic, we explore a wide range of themes with our participants through the elements of surprise, empowerment, and disruptive demonstration.

Co-Investigator, Professor Todd Landman is the Academic Magician, Associate of the Inner Magic Circle, Founder and Lifetime Honorary Member of the British Society of Mystery Entertainers, Member of the Society of American Magicians, Member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Performance Magic, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Do you want to know more? Contact us at mcat@nottingham.ac.uk

Photos by Bobby Timonera, www.mindanews.com

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