Towards Human Unity: Realising Conscious Communication as Development. Three Case Studies in Auroville, South India

VanDerHeyden, Madelaine (2020) Towards Human Unity: Realising Conscious Communication as Development. Three Case Studies in Auroville, South India. Masters thesis, American University of Paris.

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While this thesis has been submitted in part to complete a Master of Arts in Development Communications, this research focuses more on communication in Development than communications. Feeling frustrated with the tradition of development communications that has been heavily critiqued for being results- and profit-driven, losing sight of the people whom the capital-D institution of Development is meant to serve, my interests have always leaned towards
people-oriented communication in Development. Particularly, I seek to explore the role of interpersonal relationships, subjective experience and the question of what it means to “develop.” Therefore, the subject of Communication for Development has taken greater precedence in my studies. After two visits to the universal, intentional township of Auroville in South India, I was intrigued by the idea of alternative communities and their contributions to sustainable development. More specific to the case of Auroville, I was inspired by its visionary, Sri Aurobindo, and his philosophy of integral yoga, with its concept of evolving consciousness as
a means of realising human unity. A lightbulb moment occurred while re-reading Paulo Freire as I remembered Freire’s similar concept of conscientização, or consciousness-building, which is both the process and product of his liberating dialogue. Thus, while the initial research question that inspired this thesis asks what relationship exists between communication and development in practice, already proposing that the process of communicating and developing are one in the same, further exploration of Aurobindo and Freire’s ideas inspired the question to evolve to ask what value a deeper understanding of consciousness can bring to this proposal. Framed by the philosophical vision of Auroville, which is inspired by Aurobindo’s integral yoga, a final question emerged to examine the relationship between consciousness and communication and how this relationship supports
individual and collective development. These questions guided six months of field work in Auroville, which was spent observing participatory development programmes at three community-based organisations and connecting the lived experiences of key informants with the theory proposed by Aurobindo and Freire. The results of the study illustrate development in practice to be an opportunity for individual and collective transformation embodied in a process of what I conceptualise to be conscious communication, a communication intentionally
aware of self, others and the greater reality of the world, which is built on perspective-building, developing an understanding of the self, and connecting with others.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords: communication, development, consciousness, Paolo Freire, Sri Aurobindo, Auroville
Subjects: Conflict and Human Unity > Conflict and Human Unity (General)
Rural Development > Rural Development (General)
Spirituality > Sri Aurobindo
Depositing User: Dr. Suryamayi Clarence-Smith
Date Deposited: 28 Nov 2022 04:16
Last Modified: 28 Nov 2022 04:16

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