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This Master Thesis by Joeri Kabalt is based on a study that examines the working of Appreciative Inquiry in the context of the newly constituted country of Curaçao.
Previous research identified a call for a mentality change on Curaçao in relation to the new autonomous status. People were said to have a lack of an own identity, a lack of self-respect and a passive and indifferent attitude towards the future of the island.
In this study Joeri worked with an Appreciative Inquiry approach rooted in a relational constructionist thought style. This approach opens up possibilities for change by locating change agency in ongoing processes that facilitate non subject-object ways of relating. A cooperative project was organised in the field, wherein fifty youngsters from Curaçao entered into conversations with their fellow inhabitants about the strengths and future of Curaçao.
The thesis gives an in-depth description of the Appreciative Inquiry process. This case study shows that Appreciative Inquiry can be a valuable method for community development. People reacted to the invitation to engage in a positive conversation about Curaçao and participating in this project has handed people new hopeful and appreciative vocabularies and ways of talking about their island and themselves. A vocabulary wherein deficits, blaming and helplessness have given way to feelings of trust, hope, helpfulness and connectedness.