Visual Narratives from the Borderland: An InSEA Research Project

This project is a study about visual narratives of children and adolescents, who live in-between cultures. We are a group of InSEA members interested in giving visibility to borderland stories - stories narrated by people who suffered displacements of any kind, geographical, generational, cultural, linguistic, etc. and are experiencing a daily life trapped in the borders of cultures. Minorities of concern to this study are disadvantaged ethnic, national, religious, linguistic or cultural groups who are smaller in number than the rest of the population. It is hoped that by understanding various aspects of minorities around the world, it can serve as a tool for understanding and multicultural education and promote social and community cohesion. 


Artworks by immigrant children living in underserved communities in New Delhi

We are collecting visual imagery made by children and young people from different 'borderlands' in order to build a huge database of visual stories. We intend to share the images with children through exhibitions, digital publications and web galleries, and invite them to engage in conversations with one another through Internet forums or letters, in an effort to interpret and understand the in-betweenness of their own narratives within a constellation of narratives. We started this project in 2010 and expect this to be a five year research project. 

Currently, we are in collaboration with sixteen researchers focusing on a wide range of cultural borders. Some of our collaborators include Rachel Kroupp focusing on Bedouin children living in Israel, Teresa Eca focusing on gypsies and African immigrant communities, and people with mental paralysis in Portugal, Anniina Souminen Guyas focusing on immigrant children in Finland, Bick Har Lam focusing on South East Asian minority children in Hong Kong, Cathy Smilan focusing on underserved Portuguese and Hispanic communities in Massachusetts, US, Georgia Kakourou-Chroni focusing on gypsies in Sparta, Greece, Mousumi De focusing on immigrant children living in New Delhi, and children and young people of North Eastern states in India and Steve Willis focusing on drawings from MOMA (1950) and North American communities.

Children making artworks in a neignbourhood school, New Delhi

Since the start of this project, some of us presented findings from the first phase of this project at the 33rd InSEA World Congress 2011, in Budapest, and have also been joined by new collaborators focusing on other cultural borders. Further discussions on the theoretical and methodological approaches to this project and findings from the second phase of the project will be presented at the InSEA Regional Congress 2012, in Cyprus.  For more information to collaborate please contact Teresa Eca