Transnational Communities: towards a sense of belonging

Using both participatory action research and arts practice the project explored a sense of belonging, place and emplacement with four transnational communities who are defined as refugees/asylum seekers/undocumented people (in Derby, Leicester, Loughborough and Nottingham). The Long Journey Home artists in exile group based in Nottingham explored these themes and created a series of works for exhibition. Other regional universities supported us with; exhibition space, staff support, supporting artists and communities. The exhibition documents the rich cultural contributions refugees and asylum seekers bring to cities and communities as well as interrogating concepts such as belonging, place, emplacement and mobility. In our work together we operationalised the concept of 'community of practice'(Wenger) and achieved the following:
a) realised the potential of our separate and combined research by enhancing relationships between the partners; b)cemented collaboration between the partner organisations; c) explored the role of art in social research and in processes of social change. Working with ethnographic methods, participatory action research and participatory arts the partners took forward the key aims of the regional network [also funded by the AHRC], namely: i) enhancing the lives of recent arrivals in the East Midlands; ii)stimulating both high-quality inter-disciplinary research and the production of art works; iii) facilitating connection, communication and engagement with public policy; and iv) contributing to public awareness of the issues facing asylum seekers and refugees in the East Midlands.

Principal investigator
Dr Maggie O'Neill
Principal project staff
Dr Maggie ONeill, Prof. Phil Hubbard
Start date
Monday, October 1, 2007
Completion date
Monday, December 1, 2008
Digital resources created
Art created by the project participants was shared on University web-site, Flickr, YouTube, and ZoomShare.
Source material
Photographs, sound files [recording of interviews, conversations, the walking event], digital video.

Maggie O'Neill, Kevin Ryan, Phil Hubbard,Charnwood Arts, Soft Touch, Nottingham City Arts, the Long Journey Home artists, Gaylan Nazhad, Aria Ahmed, Jeffer M-Garib, Jasim Ghafur,Obedier Madziva, Emmanuel Changunda and artists Paul Gent, Rosie Hobbs,Heather Connelly, Tove Dalenius and Senkal Yaami. 'A sense of belonging: trans national communities, arts, migration and Diaspora'. Loughborough: Charnwood Arts, 2010. ISBN 978-1-903947-29-6
Maggie O’Neill, M. 'Asylum, Migration and Community'Bristol: Policy Press, 2010.
Maggie O'Neill, & Phil Hubbard, P. Walking, Sensing, Belonging: ethnomimesis as performative praxis. Visual Studies 25(1): 46-58. (2010)
Maggie O'Neill, Making Connections: Ethno-mimesis, Migration and Diaspora. Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society 14(3) (2009): 289-302.
Maggie O'Neill. Making Connections: Arts, Migration and Diaspora. in Crossings:journal of migration and culture - a special edition on 'The Arts of Migration:Politics, Policy and Participatory Action Research'(forthcoming Feb 2011)