This is a guest post by Dr. Susan Pattie.
Artists, academics and educators gathered at University College London on June 20 and 21, taking part in a series of workshops, presentations and performances designed to encourage collaboration and innovation in programs working with refugees. Engaging Refugee Narratives: Perspectives from Academia and the Arts highlighted the need to enable refugees’ own stories to be told and heard, read and seen by a broader audience. The importance and potential impact of a broad range of artistic media and techniques was demonstrated during performances and interactive workshops, many including a reminder that these have the potential for increasing social cohesion, confidence and community where local people and the newcomers together take part.
Discussions centered on finding a mutual and constructive language for sharing ideas, looking at approaches to “difference” and the construction or deconstruction of the Other, how to go beyond presentation of voices and images and truly engage both refugees and local populations at various levels. Plans have begun to create further similar, collaborative workshops. See www.refugeenarratives.com for more details.
The events, organized by Dr. Ruth Mandel and Dr. Susan Pattie of UCL, were partnered by the Organization for Identity and Cultural Development, ArtEZ Institute of the Arts, the Netherlands, the Armenian Institute and funded by the Knowledge Exchange Program of UCL.
Mike Ayvazian (Beirut) Workshop — “From the Outside in, Expressing and Playing”
Helen East (UK) Workshop — “Giving voice, shaping story, helping the tale to be heard”
Jojo Hynes and John Johnston Workshop — “Learning the Refugee Narrative”