Culture and Safety in Africa
Information poverty about developing and emerging countries is critical in our society: it negatively influences relationships between individuals at a national and international level, and limits the understanding of our contemporary growing economic, scientific, cultural and political international relationships. Scientific research plays an important role in producing and analyzing content about developing and emerging countries, but this research is not only limitedly accessible to the public, it is also difficult to understand without the necessary background knowledge. “Culture and Safety in Africa” is a communication project aiming at improving and correcting the current limited information about three African countries among the Swiss public (Cameroon, Angola and South Africa), with a specific emphasis on their cultural and artistic richness. The project is based on the scientific research “Mobile access to knowledge: Culture and safety in Africa. Documenting and assessing the impact of public art on safety and security” and focuses on three Swiss target groups: Wikipedia readers, individuals and institutions working in the field of art and culture, and individuals and institutions working in the field of cooperation and development. The project engages the Swiss general public by contributing to Wikipedia – the widest online collaborative encyclopedia – with images and articles in Italian, French, German and English. It opens a dialogue with individuals and institutions working in the field of art and culture through an exhibition on the surprisingly extensive production of cultural events and public art of the city of Douala in Cameroon and its remarkable impact on urban transformations and safety; the exhibition features images, texts, artworks and a site-specific sound installation interpreting specifically the scientific results of the research project “Mobile access to knowledge: Culture and safety in Africa”, and it is organized in conjunction with Art Basel, the major gathering of art practitioners in Switzerland. To enhance access to further information on developing and emerging countries, the project leverages the use of open licenses among individuals and institutions working in the field of cooperation and development through two pilot workshops. The focus on the cultural and artistic richness of developing and emerging countries is part of the scientific research “Mobile access to knowledge: Culture and safety in Africa”, and it is a specific multimedia way to trigger interest and empathy among a public which does not necessarily feel engaged with cooperation and development. At the same time contributing to Wikipedia provides full access to background knowledge in the 400 million readers widest and most used reference website, where individuals and institutions can continue to correct, improve and update information.