Programme – June 2016

Engaging Refugee Narratives: Perspectives from Academia and the Arts

June 20 and 21, 2016 


Workshops, seminars and performances

Open to the public



Participants                     Gallery                            

June 20 at the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies


9:00 – 9:30 Coffee/Tea  

9:30 – 9:45 Welcome: Dr. Ruth Mandel, Anthropology, UCL

9:45 – 12:45 Academic presentations to include case studies, research on issues related to refugees, their journeys and resettlement, social cohesion and issues related to local societies’ reception of refugees.
Moderator:  Prof. Michael Stewart, Department of Anthropology, UCL.  Founder Open Cities Doc Fest, Vice-Dean Enterprise, Faculty of Social and Historical Studies

  • Prof. Dawn Chatty, Professor Emeritus, Refugee Studies Center, University of Oxford
    Aesthetic Expression and Forced Migration
    The presentation will examine and explore the voices and aesthetic expressions of the displaced and dispossessed as a means of understanding the effects of displacement in terms other than those of the nation-state.  It sets out to recognize and investigate the frequently silenced voices of forced migrants who exhibit adaptability, resilience, longing, and resistance in the ‘grey zones’ and borderlands between states and state bureaucracies. It moves beyond the terms‘re-settlement’ either in the state of origin, the state of current emplacement, or a third nation-state, in which durable solutions to displacement are conventionally cast, and calls for an examination of  the experience of displaced groups whose social reality conflicts with the sedentist assumptions on which the nation-state is based.

  • Prof. Evthymios Papataxiarchis, Department of Anthropology, University of the Aegean

    Photos in the romance of ‘solidarity’: Some anthropological reflexions on the visual economy of the refugee crisis in Greece   
    Photos have played a key role in the refugee crisis of 2015. They have been instrumental in communicating hegemonic messages about the crisis, in mobilizing human and material resources and in providing the ‘raw materials’ with which the politics of the refugee crisis are being conducted. In this short presentation I will discuss the biography of the ’famous’ photo of ‘the three grannies feeding the refugee baby’ that was shot in Lesbos in October 2015. I will analyze its career at the local, national and European context and consider its impact on the very lives of its protagonists.

  • Dr. Maria Pisani, Department of Youth and Community Studies, University of Malta; Centre for Critical Migration Studies
    'There's no flowers in Mogadishu' and the same '4 cats': some critical reflections from Malta
  • Dr. Khachatur Gasparyan, Department of Medical Psychology, Yerevan State Medical University
    What are the psychotraumatic elements of Armenian Refugees? 
    This is a description of a survey conducted among three refugee settlements in Armenia, reporting on identity, social and psychological aspects of these groups. We will also examine general and historical aspects related to the displacement of these refugees, looking at psychotraumatic elements mostly associated with and influenced by historical experiences, obsessive memories and forced migration.  This includes memories of the Armenian Genocide handed down through generations. Traumatic events and memories also affect personalities of refugees, increasing the probability of illness, anxiety about and perceptions of the future,  other people and God, the meaning of life and death, issues of physical and psychological security.

  • Prof. David Napier, Department of Anthropology, University College London
    Who Cares for Creativity? Art and Integration in Moments of Trauma
    In this brief talk, I review some of the ways that art functions not only as a source of healing, but as a medium for building new relationships in moments of alienation and trauma. Based on work with refugees, the homeless, and stateless peoples more generally, I describe experiences in which art provides the creative context for new dialogues around suffering and healing.

1:00 – 2:00 Lunch

2:00 – 2:15 Welcome: Dr. Susan Pattie

2:15 – 5:15 NGO and Artist Presentations
Moderator: Gregory Thompson, Theatre Director and UCL Creative Entrepreneur in Residence.

  • John Johnston, ArtEZ Institute of the Arts, the Netherlands, Arts and Conflict Transformation
    'Palimpsest.' Disrupting the concept of single identity. A project developed in the aftermath of a sectarian killing in Northern Ireland brought two opposing groups of young people together through a process of art production and critical inquiry.

  • Christine Bacon, Ice and Fire – Verbatim Theatre
    Actors for Human Rights: using first-hand accounts to hold audiences to account
  • Mike Ayvazian,  Theater and visual arts, Beirut, Lebanon
    Using art forms to enter into telling one’s story and enable the healing process.  Theatre, drawing, creative writing, movement are artistic means I have used to provide refugees with ways to tell their stories.  We will discuss how these art forms enable them to distance themselves from their traumas enough to work on a different perspective, different ways to deal with their emotional/psychological life and with their physical situation.

  • Ole Hamre and Sissel Saue, Fargespill, Bergen, Norway
    How to reveal human resources and build culture through art.  A practical insight into the Fargespill method which has made more than 150 000 Norwegians buy tickets to experience music and dance performed by refugees and asylum seekers.

Evening Event at Studio Theatre, RADA.
16 Chenies Street, WC1E 7EX. 
8:00 p.m.
Tickets from box office 020 7636 7076 (£12; Concessions £10).

Performances and film excerpts by artists working with refugees 

Phosphorus Theatre
Dear Home Office
An Applied Theatre project with unaccompanied minor young men, developed in partnership with Afghan Association Paiwand.

Dina Mousawi, Director
Terrestrial Journeys – film excerpt

Ice and Fire
Asylum Monologues
Verbatim Theatre


Helen East with Rick Wilson
Universal to Personal: The Story Circle.  
Folktales and music provide a doorway to connecting with refugee narratives as Helen and Rick perform an excerpt from a musical storytelling presentation created for a refugee camp as part of the Hakaya Al Balad Festival and British Council, Jordan, storytelling project

Ole Hamre, Sissel Saue and members of Fargespill present Fargespill, an intimate, musical meeting with young peoples’ stories about who they are and where they come from, told through music and dance from their respective cultures.

June 21 at the UCL Department of Anthropology


9:00 – 10:00 Coffee, tea and informal networking for future collaborations

10:00 – 1:00 Parallel workshops led by artists and NGO representatives.

10:00 -- 11:20

  • Helen East – (storytelling) “Giving voice, shaping story, helping the tale to be heard"
    A practical story-making workshop with a visual thread (maximum 10 participants)
  • Jojo Hynes and John Johnston (ArtEZ)   “Learning the refugee narrative”  Participants will explore the refugee narrative from the many viewpoints of media, the protesters and the refugees. We will create immediate art works through a narrative process and explore how to play with the materials and present these jarring narratives in the space as a collaborative piece. 

11:40 - 1:00

  • Mike Ayvazian (visual arts and clowning)  From the outside in: expressing and playing
    Using clown/exaggeration/fun exercises, we will explore different emotions and then translate them into masks that will then be used to create short fun scenes. The aim is to allow an expression of various emotions without worrying about the outcome. (Maximum 18 participants)

  • Fargespill -- How to reveal human resources and build culture through art.
    Participants will be facing Fargespill's key question, what do you have? as opposed to the question most often asked the newly arrived children and youngsters, what do you lack? Through personal songs, items and stories we will explore the power lying in the uniqueness of the individual and the strength lying in a constructive and functioning collective. The Fargespill method has proven useful as a relational tool for people involved in education, cultural and social work, and can be applied to numerous situations where constructive communication is crucial.  

1:00 – 2:00 Lunch

2:00 – 3:00  Issues of Representation, Working with Refugees.
Caroline Brothers -- journalist, novelist
Robert Pinney – photography and video
Short presentations followed by conversation with audience.

3:00 – 5:00 Coffee/Tea  --  Critique and Evaluation led by Prof. Bruce White, OICD