Henry Dougier (Fondation R:): Breaking down walls and clichés

Fondation R supports the publication of books that help to better understand foreign countries through its "Life Line of a Nation" series that fights prejudice and gives a voice to people who are sometimes not heard. Interview with its founder Henry Dougier.

Could you introduce Fondation R in a few words?

Fondation R aims to promote and support cultural and societal initiatives while emphasizing the social link. To do this, we put the "invisibles" under the spotlight, the little-known fringe of the population whose story deserves to be told.  In particular, we carry out field surveys and writing workshops to enable them to express their experiences, expectations or memories. The "Life Line of a Nation " collection allows you to discover 50 countries, while the "One Life, One Voice" collection showcases people who have been ignored, whose profession, country or way of life in the 20th century deserves to be discovered. The same is true for the series "Us, the Youngs" produced by teenagers who are often left behind. The "10 + 100" collection takes the form of a survey on contemporary creation; around 100 emblematic places and 10 artists bringing these spaces to life, each in its own way.

«We lead small revolutions on a daily basis to "repair" society.»

What are the objectives of your publications?

 

Fondation R has a primary objective: to allow people who have been ignored to speak out. Young people, the elderly, the disabled, people living in working-class suburbs, small towns or rural areas: so many men and women sharing their emotions, their histories and their passions. Testimonies that deserve to be heard and disseminated through our various publications. The challenge is also to promote sharing, the exchange of values, the acceptance of diversity and the discovery of others. In other words, Fondation R aims to bring people and cultures closer together, making each difference a strength, while leading small daily revolutions to "repair" society.

 

Could you share the best anecdotes illustrating the success of your model?

 

Created four years ago with the Henry Dougier workshops, the " Life Line of a Nation" collection perfectly illustrates our work. Composed of 50 titles, Fondation R reaches out to people in various countries, regions and cities around the world. Against all odds, the most interesting texts and stories come from the least known peoples, such as Icelanders, Lithuanians and Paraguayans. These places and people, of which we do not know much at all, surprise us with their extremely strong personalities. We also work with young people from working-class neighborhoods, vocational schools and even migrants. They are marked with feelings of abandonment and we give them a voice via writing workshops. They tend not to feel capable at first but manage to produce the content of an entire newspaper. It is a way for these people to relate their journeys, their itineraries and their desires. We are very attached to it, simply because it is a way of highlighting people who have never had an opportunity.

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