Emilia Demetriou

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Affiliated Organizations

What are contexts and issues that you work on? How are you using peace education to address these issues? What keeps you going?

Growing up in Nicosia the division of societies and opinions of people around me were quite rigid. My dad would always send me to mixed summer camps with Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot participants; so when attending a Greek- Cypriot public primary school, as well as a private high school later on, the way I was taught history and the perceptions of history of my fellow classmates and friends felt strange to me. I remember the phrase ‘I don’t forget’ printed on each of my textbooks which I felt to be uncanny but I never really expressed my thoughts. As a multidisciplinary artist and arts facilitator I have developed a practice with Turkish artist Naz Balkaya. Our respective homelands claim that we should be enemies, so we have employed the model of friendship to counter such national barriers, as well as to test the limits of collaborative practice. Our artistic work as well as our event facilitation perceives and promotes collaboration as a learning environment; using collaboration as an internalised policy and a tool to rediscover the political and emotional joy that appears when we share our lives. Those magical moments where people come together in joy is what keeps me going.

What has been your most meaningful or noteworthy moment in your peace education career?

As a young artist and facilitator I am really new to the term Peace Education, and only came across it when researching alternative ways of education and pedagogies. I’m not confident enough to consider myself a peace educator, but I think my practice as an artist has a lot in common. I think that IIPE 2019 was very specific and personal, since it was hosted in my hometown, where my drive for these issues first flourished but also it was my first contact with so many peace educators from all over the world, so I would definitely consider IIPE 2019 the most striking moment in my peace education experience.

How and why did you start working in peace education?

In 2017, while doing my MA in Contemporary Art Practice at the Royal College of Art (RCA), I was quite frustrated because of the failing structures, elitism and bureaucracy that the university was functioning under; many of my classmates, tutors and lecturers were struggling with those issues, too. This was what got me thinking and researching about alternative education. Lynne Segal’s ‘Radical Happiness’, Paulo Freire’s ‘Pedagogy of The Oppressed’, as well as various readings on the topic of performativity as critical pedagogy have been part of my research. I finished my first year of MA and decided that I would not go into my second year, but rather seek alternative ways of education. In February 2019 I joined the Associate Artists Development Program at Open School East (OSE) in Margate, UK. The school has an ethos that I want my practice to develop towards- social engagement projects, public workshops and pedagogy for all. OSE is one of the few platforms in Margate which reaches and engages with children in Cliftonville, which is the county’s sixth most income deprived area for children.