Interfaith Childhoods is the first arts-based early childhood and community interfaith research program in Australia and England. It compares the contexts of Sydney and London, and Melbourne and Manchester. At present, art is an under-utilised resource in the field of interfaith research, concerned as it is with making affective interventions in cultural logics. Arts engagement programs can make images depicting what Anita Harris describes as positive ‘interethnic habitus’ (2014: 572) and interfaith relationships. Our research establishes the potential of such programs.

The framework and methods for the proposed project are world-leading and innovative. It will be the first study in Australia and Great Britain to create a large-scale public art program designed to discuss social values in relation to different faiths from the ages of 3-10 years. The arts-based methods employed are a methodological transformation of affect theory, focusing on, activating, and transforming, emotional responses (Tomkins 1992 4:7). The first research project to include an early childhood and interfaith (Bunge 2006) focus, the methodology brings theories of affect (Hickey-Moody 2012, 2013) to consider the creation of new forms of interethnic, interracial community and national belonging through art. The project catalogues and understands how non-verbal, aesthetic, and culturally-coded forms of information change how interfaith young people relate to each other. Methodologically, arts-based fieldwork creates innovative data sets that include images created by children from different faith backgrounds, photographs of interfaith children working together, interviews with young participants and their families, and quantitative data tracking the distribution of art. Our focus groups for parents and community offer the opportunity to explore the role that faith plays in personal and public life.


Works cited:

Harris, A. (2014) Conviviality, Conflict and Distanciation in Young People’s Local Multicultures Journal of Intercultural Studies 35 (6) pp. 571-587.

Tomkins, S. (1992) Affect Imagery Consciousness: Cognition Vol. 4. New York: Springer.

Tomkins, S. (1962) Affect Imagery Consciousness: The Positive Affects Vol. 1. New York: Springer.

Bunge, M. (2006) ‘The child, religion and the academy: Developing robust theological and religious understandings of children and childhood’ The Journal of Religion 86 (4) pp. 549-579.

Hickey-Moody, A. (2012) Youth, Arts and Education. Routledge, London and New York.

Hickey-Moody, A. (2013) ‘Affect as Method: Feelings, Aesthetics and Affective Pedagogy’ Deleuze and Research Methodologies, Eds Rebecca Coleman & Jessica Ringrose. Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press. pp. 79-95.