Sexual-health communication across and within cultures: the Clown Project, Guatemala

The synergies created through the careful application of both organic and symbolic communication demonstrably reach those most vulnerable to the spread and impact of HIV and AIDS. The Clown Project uses labour-intensive face-to-face street theatre and dialogue, participatory workshops, and symbolic communication such as print-based materials. Some lessons learned in selected communities in Guatemala and other countries in Central America are shared. The paper puts forward an argument in favour of careful and critical analysis of culture in formulating communication strategies with and for specific groups. This analysis takes into account relations of power within and between vulnerable groups, examining the centre–periphery dynamic between classes, genders, ethnicities, age groups, and other social identities. Both appropriately supported insider perspectives and appropriately processed outsider knowledge are recommended, along with ways of bridging science and the field, theory and practice.