Accepted Paper:

Drawing (across) borders: Reflections on the use of creative visual communication in ethnographic research with/for young refugees  
Lucy Hunt (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

This paper reflects on the use of visual and creative forms of communication when conducting and disseminating ethnographic research with forcibly displaced youth; and the challenges and possibilities of drawing in particular. It is based on fieldwork carried out in Thessaloniki, Greece.

Paper long abstract:

This paper argues for greater engagement with ‘visuality’ and creative communication in research with/for linguistically and culturally diverse groups of young people, such as those who have been forcibly displaced across borders. It is based on eight months of ethnographic fieldwork with displaced youth in Thessaloniki, Greece, involving participant observation as a volunteer teacher in various educational spaces (including language classes and arts workshops). During this period, focus group discussions were held with youth aged 15-25 which involved creative methods - namely, drawing pathways to one's future and the barriers and supports along it - as well as interviews with educational ‘stakeholders’ such as teachers, parents and coordinators.

The paper addresses two ways in which visual communication became a part of this project, and reflects on the associated challenges and possibilities of drawing as both a method and form of dissemination. Firstly, it describes how the ‘visual’ was incorporated into the process of data collection and analysis - from pictorial consent forms and creative methods to the researcher’s reflective sketches and photographs - and the ethical and practical implications of this. Secondly, it makes the case for creating a visual product of research with/for refugees, to enable youth to share their lives in colour, rather than as another bureaucratic or academic text. It concludes with a call for researchers to visually engage an audience beyond academia in young people's stories, while paying attention to their role in constructing generalised visual narratives.

Panel P05a
The crisis of communication
  Session 1