Forum Theatre as a mechanism to explore representation of local people's values in environmental governance: A case of study from Chiapas, Mexico

Silvia Olvera‐Hernández*, M. Azahara Mesa‐Jurado, Paula Novo, Julia Martin‐Ortega, Aylwyn Walsh, George Holmes, Alice Borchi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)


Nature degradation, poverty and social discrimination are some of the consequences of unfair decision‐making over environmental resources within rural communities in the Global South. Barriers to achieving fair environmental decisions are entrenched power differences and the lack of representation of the diversity of local values in environmental decision‐making. Using intersectionality and value pluralism as a conceptual base, this is the first paper to examine the potential of Forum Theatre, a performance arts‐based method, to discuss ‘solutions’ regarding power differences and values towards nature in environmental decision‐making. We implemented Forum Theatre in two rural villages in Chiapas, Mexico, framed around conflicts and power differences in eco‐tourism development. Participants felt empathy with the Forum Theatre characters and dissatisfaction over the conflicts, and this motivated them to engage and participate in collective reflections on their own personal experiences with power differences in environmental decision‐making. From these reflections, participants performed diverse ‘solutions’ to the conflicts, bringing to the fore plural interconnected and dynamic values towards nature in these narratives. Despite this, Forum Theatre does not look to ‘solve’ conflicts; it is a safe space to explore how power differences and values towards nature play out in environmental decision‐making. Results offer a promising picture of the potential of Forum Theatre as an opening where participants could discuss power differences and values towards nature. However, establishing its potential as a tool in environmental decision‐making would require engaging those involved in implementing environmental decisions that affect the communities but who operate from other levels of the governance structure, such as policy‐makers and large NGOs. Read the free Plain Language Summary for this article on the Journal blog.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-133
Number of pages15
JournalPeople and Nature
Issue number1
Early online date8 Dec 2022
Publication statusPrint publication - Feb 2023


  • Ecological economics
  • Ecosystem services studies
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Human ecology
  • Landscape planning
  • Socioecology
  • environmental decision‐making
  • intersectionality
  • participatory methods
  • performance arts‐based methods
  • power differences
  • value pluralism
  • performance arts-based methods
  • environmental decision-making


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