The Juggler: How Social Circus Helps Children from the Stellenbosch Area in South Africa to Embody, Become Aware of, and Challenge the Walls in Their Landscape

Sophie Kalker

Visual Anthropology, University of Amsterdam

Abstract

This paper functions as background information on my ethnographic film ‘The Juggler’. The film is about the children from the Sisonke social circus in South Africa. Sisonke wants to stimulate integration by making children move together in circus practice. They use of different movement techniques to build trust across community lines. With the film, I try to show how children from Isi!Xosa, English and Afrikaans communities in the Stellenbosch area experience the practice of social circus; how social circus tries to help the children to challenge the barriers and walls that are part of the South African landscape, and therefore of the children. The film is divided in three parts to illustrate how the children showed their experiences with me: imagining, moving and reflecting.

In this written part, I try to elaborate on the theory and thoughts behind the scenes. In the film and paper, I elaborate on my findings with the use of the term ‘landscape’. I use landscape to try to show the entanglements of history, political context, culture, nature, body and mind. It encompasses the way people are being-in-the-world; how they form, and are formed by it, in a continuous movement.

With the film and paper, I try to show how mental and physical walls are a manifestation of this shared landscape; how the children embody, become aware of and challenge the walls by moving together.[1]


[1] This project received ethical clearance from the Sisonke social circus, all the children and parents, and the University of Amsterdam.

Keywords

Embodiment; Landscape; Social Circus; Visual Anthropology; Walls


Author contact: sophieellenkalker [at] gmail.com

Citation: Kalker, S., 2019. “The Juggler: How Social Circus Helps Children from the Stellenbosch Area in South Africa to Embody, Become Aware of, and Challenge the Walls in Their Landscape”, Irish Journal of Anthropology, 22(1), 63-71.