2021 summer activities

2021 summer activities

Screening and discussing the documentary Paris 8, the Hip-Hop Uni

This activity followed on from the dynamic set in motion during the first meeting with the young people of the organisations Démozamau (DMZ) and To Have an Impact (ToHAI), in June 2021. The idea was to get the young people of DMZ reflecting on the possibility of setting up hip-hop projects within universities, after witnessing the experience related in the documentary Paris 8, the Hip-Hop Uni. The activity took place on 21 July 2021, at the “Pôle Associatif de la Marbaudais” (PAM – Marbaudais Community Hub). Around ten people affiliated with DMZ were present.
The participants and facilitators of DMZ first exchanged feedback on what each of them had experienced during the first meeting with the young people of ToHAI, then clarified a few points as to the outcome they expected from project OUYE. DMZ then screened the documentary. The film, which was directed by Pascal Tessaud, explains how hip-hop culture managed to gain a foothold in Paris 8 University in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This atypical experience seemed to kindle the participants’ interest.

The DMZ facilitators and participants therefore took some time to exchange views on the content of the documentary, and the connections that could be made with project OUYE. This led to a series of questions such as:

How open is Paris 8 University to hip-hop projects today?
The storyline takes place between the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s. The world of hip-hop has changed a lot since then. Is an experience such as this still indicative of what could be done today?
The dynamics described in the film rest mostly on one person, i.e. the lecturer, Georges Lapassade. Should the responsibility for a movement be entrusted to someone who is not initially interested in the subject? Who should promote such projects? Activists or researchers?
The participants also abundantly addressed the issues of prejudice, the stigmatisation of hip-hop, cultural appropriation by a certain “intellectual elite”, and what it feels to belong to a cultural movement. Ultimately, even though this experience was interesting in terms of passing down art, political involvement and cultural development, it seems, in retrospect, that we should try to understand what did not work in order to avoid replicating it in the context of a project such as OUYE.

Microadventures to explore the Pyrenees and French Alps

To Have an Impact organised three one-week microadventures to explore the Pyrenees and French Alps. Twenty young people aged 16 to 27 participated, their common characteristic being that none of them had ever had the chance to venture into such spectacular natural spaces, not even into those close to their homes. And yet, some of the young people live not far away from such spaces: Lyon (the Alps), Strasbourg (the Vosges and Jura Mountains), Limoges (the Massif Central), etc.
Microadventures are a concept that ToHAI develops within the organisation and on social media. The idea is to go on an adventure, i.e. to take a break from daily routine on various levels: accommodation, food, means of transportation, etc. These trips are called “micro” adventures because they take place in France (no need to take the plane, which would involve extra costs) and are relatively short (from one night to a week). The microadventures organised during the summer of 2021 thus consisted in one-week alpine treks (above 2000 meters). The goal was to discover breathtaking landscapes, especially as the young people who came along had never seen anything like them. A glacial lake, glaciers, perennial snow, exceptional geological formations, extreme temperatures bordering on 0°C at night, no sources of supply, no toilets, no showers, etc. Sheer adventure, that was what the trip was about.

The activities which took place during the summer of 2021 are part of ToHAI’s contribution to the project Opening Universities for Youth in Europe. Indeed, it was not just about spending time in the mountains. These trips were an opportunity for us to engage in a research dynamic with the young people who came along. For ToHAI’s facilitators, two dimensions needed questioning. First, these microadventures were organised in order to make it conceivable for young people with an immigrant background (for that was their profile) to visit such places, perhaps even to become aware of the existence of such natural spaces in France. Second, the facilitators pushed these young people into acting as investigators in order to help them engage in a research process. They wanted them to search for reasons as to their presence or absence from this environment by themselves. In order to do this – and we shall develop this aspect later on – the facilitators from ToHAI employed several action research methods, using both conventional university tools and methodological experimenting.

Presentation at the Pasteur Hotel, September 2021

The young people gave an oral account of their alpine experience, the first of a kind for them, backed with photographs, and a painting exhibit with works inspired from the microadventure. That is when the research question started appearing in their discussions, as hypotheses based on the observations they had made during the summer. It is probable that the questions and reactions of the more senior members of the audience triggered among the young people an awareness of the topic, which they were starting to claim as their own – no longer a ridiculous and pointless question having emerged from the facilitators’ minds, or their own for that matter, but a society issue full of meaning.