With Coventry University Early Career Researcher Pump Prime Funding, I am going on a four-week field trip to the Kalahari San people of Namibia (21/2/17 – 21/3/17), to join the dance ceremonies that are very much part of their culture. On average they dance once a week, sometimes more, to ask for healing, resolve conflicts, and attend to the community’s needs.
With an amazing team, consisting of my Movement Medicine colleague Caroline Carey, her husband Ben Cole who is a cinematographer, and Caspar Brown who is in training to become a tracker with the San, we are primarily going to the Nyae Nyae conservancy, where we hope to visit a few groups and attend some dances. I will collect data through participant observation, some interviews and film.
The aim is to analyse the key elements of their practice to investigate whether the principles of “a shaking dance by the campfire with bare feet in the sand” can be translated to western settings, and if yes how? In what ways can it contribute to providing people with tools for prevention and self-management, and to sustainable health care for all? These objectives are in alignment with the NHS’s call for strategies that include social, psychological, physical, and holistic aspects of a person. I know it is a stretch – as the cultures are so different, one glaring difference being the sense of community that is often absent in the west. However, this initial visit will enable me to test my research questions, examine their suitability and revise them where necessary, and to investigate any ethical issues that my study might raise.
I will organise a few participatory, interactive workshops with patients that have long-term chronic conditions, to share the data and invite people to creatively think about activities that provide meaning for them, and ways to manage their situation.
Here is a link to a documentary Ben Cole made during an earlier visit:
You can follow the project on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/healthyshake2/
– Eline Kieft