Hatzigianni, Maria; Miller, Melinda; Guinnones, Gloria (2014). 'Exploring the Capability Approach in Arts: The case of the Greek Traditional Shadow Theatre 'Karagiozis'.' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, 2-5 September 2014, Athens, Greece.

 'The weak are always anxious for justice and equality. The strong pay no heed to either.'
― Aristotle

Investigating links between the Capability Approach and Education is a growing area of research (Vermeulen, 2012). Capability Approach promotes the human, social perspective of development in Education (Unterhalter, 2009), in contrast with Human Capital theory which emphasises educational 'inputs and outcomes' (Robeyns, 2005) and Human Rights theory that focuses on Education as a 'legal right' (McMillan, 2011, p. 540). Moreover, moving away from the economical aspects of educational investments and valuing 'doings and beings' instead of scores in maths or literacy (Unterhalter, 2009) enables the opening up of a pathway to reconceptualise and underline the importance of Arts in Education.


This paper explores the Capability Approach and its implementation through the Arts. Analysis is focussed on ten central capabilities (Nussbaum, 2000) as observed (or not) in the Greek traditional shadow theatre of 'Karagiozis'. Historically, Karagiozis has its origins in Egyptian and Turkish satirical shadow theatre and, during the 19th century, was transferred in Greece. In times of crisis (for example during the times when Greek people were fighting the Ottoman Empire), Karagiozis became extremely well-known and loved by the oppressed Greek people. Almost two centuries after its first appearance, it has been transformed in various ways but the basic structure remains almost intact. Today, Karagiozis is still quite popular and a large number of educators use Karagiozis in their teaching practice. Interestingly, the growth of Karagiozis increased again during a period when Greece is undergoing an economical and cultural crisis. Nowadays, given the immense presence of technology, Karagiozis faces new challenges such as being offered only as a child's spectacle, although technology also opens new possibilities including engagement with Karagiozis on YouTube at schools and in homes.

The artistic and dramatic forms of Karagiozis have been commented and investigated (Govas, Katsaridou, & Mavreas, 2012), but limited research has been undertaken in regard to embedded themes of social justice. Using the Capability Approach as a theoretical framework and thematic analysis as a method for inquiry, this paper explores the ways the ten central capabilities are directly or indirectly represented in the plot and character profiles of this traditional form of theatre. According to Nussbaum (2000), the ten capabilities are: Life; Bodily Health; Bodily Integrity; Senses, Imagination and Thought; Emotions; Practical Reason; Affiliation; Other Species; Play; and Control over one's environment. These ten capabilities provide a description of what a free, good life can be like and it is up to individuals or groups of individuals to pursue them or not.

Finally, the paper offers ideas for further research into the area of Arts and Education under the Capability Approach. Exploring themes of social justice provides a new perspective and a new platform for the implementation of this popular form of theatre in classrooms, not only for enjoyment but for the enhancement of critical thinking about social justice issues including democratic freedoms and the overall good of society as a whole (Unterhalter, 2009).