Ubuntu as a Tool for Resilience: Arts, Microbusiness, and Social Justice in South Africa
Conflict Resolution Quarterly, Vol. 34, p. 455–490, 2017
Posted: 7 Jun 2017
Date Written: January 31, 2017
Ubuntu is a complex concept, but at its simplest is “human-ness,” the notion that individuals’ well-being is intertwined with that of others in the community. This article examines how ubuntu s multiple meanings offer a potential tool for resilience in South Africa, both for arts organizations and for micro and small businesses. Artist Proof Studio offers a sustained working example of how creativity can make a contribution towards a more just society using a hybrid arts/business model. The arts are particularly important in South Africa for offering the space to address deep wounds, using artistic collaborations to contribute to resilience and wellbeing. Ubuntu can offer an alternative vision to financing micro and small business to the one currently proposed by international lending organizations that seek to import Western-style models of shareholder primacy, short-term profit, and privatization of public goods. Ubuntu allows for creative new approaches to business, encouraging hybrid models that are socially focused and economically sustainable. The arts have the potential for a significant role in conceiving of ubuntu as a tool for resilience of micro and small businesses and as a way of conceptualizing being human in the business context, helping to envision productive and sustainable activities that advance greater economic sustainability.
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