Women on Purpose: Interrogating a Model for Cross-Cultural, Interdisciplinary Collaborations

Kim S. Berman, Jane A. Hassinger

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


A South African artist/educator and an American psychoanalyst/educator describe their experience with a five-year transnational, multidisciplinary collaboration. The AIDS Action Intervention and Women on Purpose projects were developed by an international and local group of researchers, consultants, artists and students to enhance the sustainability of Phumani Paper, a poverty alleviation program founded by the South African collaborator, which established 21 papermaking craft enterprises across South Africa. Inspired by feminist ideals of empowerment and self-determination, the team introduced a qualitative, participatory action research project at six Phumani papermaking workshop sites. Participants were trained in the Photovoice methodology and art-making processes to document their struggles for economic independence. Through iterative processes of reflection and sharing, participants identified shared social action objectives. The AIDS Action Intervention was created to provide support and increase agency for Phumani papermakers, the great majority of whom are women profoundly affected by the HIV pandemic. Through the application of visual arts methods, participants engaged in processes of healing and generation of new knowledge about themselves and their communities. It is argued in this that social transformations are potentiated when cultural reference points are engaged through multi-disciplinary approaches and practices.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIdentities in Transition
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781848880825
ISBN (Print)9789004403567
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Cross-cultural
  • HIV/AIDS action intervention
  • arts-based methods
  • interdisciplinary
  • participatory collaboration; women’s craft enterprises

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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