This creative activity is one of the series of games I have created and implemented during my post as Assistant Lecturer on the module PO314: Introduction to Political Theory at the University of Kent (2017/18).
By adapting some of the art installations I created for (and contributed to) the Fairground at Tate Exchange in April 2017 (a collaborative week-long workshop by University of Kent, CCCU, People United, ValleyKids and Whitstable biennale), I constructed an interactive art installation in the seminar room. Using plastic plant pots as bricks, I constructed a wall of four layers. I explained to my students that each layer represented a different dimension of power, and they were invited to think of real-life examples to jot onto the provided sticky note pads. In turns, each student presented their example to the rest of the group and the whole group discussed and decided which brick layer/dimension of power the sticky note/example belonged. This process helped my students to clarify the different dimensions of power and to see that power can be exercised in various ways: by force, coercion, ideology and hegemony. Once everyone had stuck their example on the wall, I gave out bean bags I designed with political tools/movement symbols (see above images or click here for more details). The students were invited to throw their “political tools” at the wall to dismantle it. The idea of this fun activity was to provide an opportunity for my students to think about the ways in which political tools and movements have been used as forms of resistance to different dimensions of power, and how their participation can be experienced as a form of empowerment.
Identify a recent negative example of power:
E.G. identify a power relation, or an example where power has been exercised in a negative way, etc.
Write this example on a sticky note.
In turns, read your example to the rest of the group and then, as a group, discuss where to place the sticky note on the brick wall:
1st: Force (between individuals)
2nd: Limited choices (for individuals)
3rd: Uncritically accepted conditions
4th: The conditions
Dismantle the brick wall!
Pick up your political tool and use it!
Is power about agency (us dismantling the wall) or structure (the wall of power conditioning us)?
Or, can we think of it in terms of empowerment:
Giving people agency (to dismantle the wall)
or creating new structures (building new walls)?
*The examples written on the post-it notes were produced by the students and the activity was performed on 12th and 13th December 2017 during the seminar.