Communicating (African) biodiversity through capulanas
Author: Rita Campos – CES-UC – Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal
Capulanas are traditional fabrics found in many African countries, usually display a rich diversity of colourful patterns and several patterns have shapes allusive to natural elements. Being also easy to manipulate, capulanas offer a unique opportunity to initiate a conversation about African biodiversity. This was tested in a series of sessions with pre-schoolers (3 to 6 years old) held in the scope of an exhibition about the biodiversity of Mozambique. The sessions started with an exploration of a terrestrial globe, where the children were able to identify their current country, Portugal, and continent, Europe, and relate it to Africa and Mozambique. Then, the children were invited to choose their favourite capulana from a pile and find the biodiversity “hidden” in the pattern. This led to a discussion about the species represented, where they live, why some species can only be found in a given part of the world or if a given species is more or less known, abundant or likable. In other words, the capulanas allowed to talk about biodiversity, evolution, adaptation, geography, environmental characteristics, human induce changes, … Finally, the children engaged in a “paint your own capulana” activity, which allows to understand how biodiversity is perceived by young children and how science communication can target the “invisible species”. These sessions have a high potential to engage the audience, promoting co-construction of knowledge from shared stories and perceptions, and are easily done with other traditional and non-traditional fabrics, widening the geographic area and the discussion about different species or other topics related to biodiversity or environmental sustainability. Furthermore, since traditional fabrics are connected to social and cultural aspects of human societies, it can be used as communication vehicles for delivering a diversified range of messages or reaching different groups, including publics traditionally less interested or engaged with science.
The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.
Presentation type: Insight talk