Fostering Social Integration of Displaced Populations through the Performing Arts (2021-2022)


Within the context of a global pandemic, rising political populism and calls for the end of inequities, how can the arts facilitate community outreach, social integration and cultural citizenship?

The concept of cultural citizenship highlights the role of the public sphere in fostering democratic citizenship and equality by redefining citizenship as a status, a process and a product of material and symbolic struggles. The performing arts are one way to create cultural citizenship, promote social integration and build ties with displaced populations. Notably, the performing arts can enable interaction and shared experiences.

Yet, the COVID-19 crisis has drastically brought the performing arts world to a near halt. Amid concerns about the mere survival of arts organizations, what are the best strategies for maintaining relationships with audiences when art cannot be directly experienced in person? How can the performing arts still foster a feeling of connection despite physical distance and dislocation? How can arts organizations still serve marginalized communities and revive fragile neighborhoods? How can the arts created shared experiences that are a truthful negotiation of values, world views and ethics?

Project Description

This project team will work with local and global partners to assess the effectiveness of various arts outreach programs in terms of creating the conditions for cultural citizenship and social integration among displaced and marginalized communities.

This project has grown out of the Arts and Cultural Citizenship Initiative at Duke. Over the past four years, the initiative has included tailored internships for undergraduate students enrolled in Duke in France (EDUCO) and Duke in Paris programs, as well as graduate students whose research engages with the arts in France. Given COVID-19 and exacerbated inequities, the initiative has shifted its focus to specific strategies for creating and disseminating works in uncertain times.

Locally, the team will assess programs such as the Culture Mill Lab in Saxapahaw, NC. In France, the team will work with programs such as the DEMOS Initiative at the Philharmonie de Paris, which provides children from rural and low-income communities with access to music education. Team members will assess the efficacy of community outreach projects at the Philharmonie, targeting displaced and marginalized populations. They will also explore the avenues offered by shapeshifting avant-garde arts organizations that can respond to crises in a holistic manner, and the ways in which they might be scaled up. The team will study various frameworks using multiple methodological models drawn from public policy and sociology, narrative analysis, statistics, questionnaires and testimonies.

In parallel, team members will facilitate performances and events (virtual or on campus) by artists such as Jordi Savall’s ensemble Orpheus XXI and Sidi-Larbi Cherkaoui’s Eastman company. Finally, they will create an interactive choreographed performance and related “actions” at the Ruby. These performances will be connected to Duke courses and will include the participation of students, local communities and refugees.

Team members will also fashion a digital platform that will form a dynamic network between entities at Duke and arts organizations.

Through these multifaceted actions, team members will test the hypothesis that the arts can play a key role in the articulation of cultural citizenship, while also imagining a post COVID-19 art world.

Anticipated Outputs

Case studies; public events; presentations; workshops; art performances; new courses at both undergraduate and graduate levels

Student Opportunities

Ideally, this team will consist of 2-4 graduate students and 9-12 undergraduate students.

Team members will be divided into several interacting subgroups including one group in Paris (if international travel becomes viable) focused on field work; one group in Durham focused on data collection and a methodological framework of analysis; and another group in Durham focused on engagement with local art organizations and communities for the two performances, and the creation of a website.

Undergraduate students in Paris will ideally be Public Policy and Cultural Anthropology majors participating in Duke in France (EDUCO) (once study abroad resumes) with expertise in group observation, questionnaires and the analysis of testimonies. Students located in Durham who plan to focus on assessment will ideally be Statistical Sciences and Sociology majors with expertise in data analysis, statistics and visualization tools. Students in Durham who will focus on performances on campus will ideally have some experience with the performing arts as well as software experience for the creation of a digital platform. Students from the MFA programs in Dance and Experimental and Documentary Arts will also be particularly welcome.

Undergraduate students will work directly with team leaders on researching their projects. Graduate students can use this network of partnerships as a platform for engaging with concrete instances of political and aesthetic investigation. Team members will also provide access to archival centers and enable the execution of major research. The team will foster intellectual dialogue through workshops at Duke in which students, faculty, artists and guest speakers can practice, debate and critique artistic public interventions on both sides of the Atlantic.

A graduate student will be selected to serve as a project manager.


Fall 2021 – Summer 2022

  • Fall 2021: If possible, implement undergraduate internships; organize performing events/lectures; collaborate with Global Voices course; collect internship reports and evaluation of first round of studies
  • Spring 2022: Implement undergraduate internships; facilitate actions by Sidi-Larbi Cherkaoui, in collaboration with MFA in Dance and Dance in French Culture course; create a work with team leaders as part of a performance class
  • Summer 2022 (optional): Conversations with Durham and Paris stakeholders; assess activities, performances and workshops

This Team in the News

Making the Most of Duke, Summer 2021


Academic credit available for fall and spring semesters; summer funding available


Image from DÉMOS Philharmonie de Paris website

Violin players.

Team Leaders

  • Michael Klien, Arts & Sciences-Dance
  • Gabriel Jacques Richard, Arts & Sciences-Romance Studies;Music
  • Anne-Gaelle Saliot, Arts & Sciences-Romance Studies;Art, Art History, and Visual Studies

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Allison Chen
  • Emma Chun
  • Eliza Heaton
  • Gianni Lacey-Howard, Sociology (AB)
  • Emma Lee
  • Julia Leeman
  • Yuanyuan Lin
  • Elise Michels
  • Amira Miel
  • Ruoci Ning
  • Ooha Reddy
  • Florence Wang, Neuroscience (BS), Statistical Science (BS2)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Christelle Gonthier, Arts & Sciences-Romance Studies
  • Deborah Reisinger, Arts & Sciences-Romance Studies

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Laurent Bayle, Philharmonie de Paris
  • Murielle Elizeon, Culture Mill
  • Emmanuel Hondré, Philharmonie de Paris
  • Tommy Noonan, Culture Mill