Contesting fundamentalism - Conserving Democracy through Culture & Education in Pakistan  
The Center staff conceived and implemented a project in the Department of Communication & Cultural Studies, National College of Arts, Lahore. Working toward an overall goal of “enabling a democratic culture in Pakistan,” the project purpose was to “sensitise students and policy makers to the role of culture for peace and democracy in Pakistan.” A key objective of the project was to open and explore a space to contest rising fundamentalism through sound academic research and education activities. The project delivered all its outputs:
  • Project website with updates and resources on project theme
  • Series of four seminars on Culture and Violence with approx. 20 students from different departments
  • Series of four seminars on Violence and Democracy with approx. 20 students from different departments
  • Two policy briefs, “Violence & Culture” and “Violence & Education”, disseminated to stakeholders
  • National symposium with 30 educators, artists, NGO activists and students on “Violence, Culture and Democracy”, plus a symposium report
  • Unique exhibition, “Culture and Democracy”, of 30 student artworks, independently juried and awarded prizes

The project reached numerous stakeholders, including national policy makers, national and international academics, artists, and democratic activists. Also, some academic materials were produced for wide dissemination, while the project successfully stakeholders to discuss the issue of Islamic fundamentalism. The project exhibition was also a successful, unique venture. This was the first time that students had been provided some conceptual underpinnings to the culture, democracy and violence – and their inter-linkages – and had then been encouraged to explore them through art. For students of NCA, immersed in art training, the theme allowed them to express their diversity and opinions on the state of democracy and violence in Pakistan today. The exhibition was widely reported in the national press, and was visited by select guests as well as the general public. The exhibition, and the project in general, was the first time that academic understanding of democracy and violence were brought to arts students at NCA. The seminar series proved highly successful, despite being held after College hours at NCA and requiring more background reading than typical NCA undergraduate courses. At the end of the first series, there was great demand for the seminars, and a second series was conducted next term. This second series was also over-subscribed, and at the end there was a consistent demand from students to extend such activities on a more regular basis.

For further information, please visit the project website:
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