The Mandala of Identity

The Mandala of Identity can be used as an alternative to the traditional models of culture and identity (iceberg, onion, etc), or as further step in the description of them.

  1. You can start providing participants with a short presentation on identity. For this Mandala I chose postcolonial literature, literature on intersectionality and Mandala as a tool for introspection. It goes without saying that also other theories can be integrated and adapted, depending on the context, group of participants and aims of the seminar.
  2. Prepare a simple and uncoloured “Mandala Model” on a flipchart, drawing in it 4 symmetric sections corresponding to a) nation/race/ethnic origin, b) gender/sex, gender identity c) faith/religion/belief, d) ….the fourth can be open to participants’ suggestion (each participant can choose one ground that comes spontaneously during the exercise). The four sections have a common core at the centre of the Mandala, where participants can draw intersecting grounds (maybe all of them intersect or maybe just some of them). In each section can be mentioned many different related issues. Suggest to participants that the Mandala Model shows just the structure of the exercise, but they are completely free for the rest: to use the colours they prefer, to choose the shape of their Mandala, to add some details which may arise during the exercise, to add sections and question the boundaries between categories.

To offer to participants a creative tool to:

  • deconstruct the idea of identity as a monolith;
  • reflect on different elements belonging to their own identityspend time for inner self-reflection and introspection;
  • put in relation their identity/identities and different roles played in daily life and expectations from societies;
  • develop self-awareness, sensitiveness and empathy;
  • reflect on forms of discrimination occurred on one ground or intersecting grounds;
  • find commonalities with other advocacy groups along the lines of different and intersecting grounds.