"Safe Spaces" International Research Network Meeting in Mexico

"Safe Spaces" International Research Network Meeting in Mexico

Issued: Thu, 13 Dec 2018 09:57:00 GMT

The International Research Network, "Children’s Literature in Critical Contexts of Displacement: Exploring how story and arts-based practices create ‘safe spaces’ for displaced children and young people", led by a team based at the School of Education, University of Glasgow (Evelyn Arizpe, Julie McAdam, Lavinia Hirsu, Susanne Abou Ghaida), held a series of meetings, workshops and events in Mexico. The objectives of the Network are to create solid alliances among academics, organizations and social initiatives and government agencies to investigate and share texts and practices used to strengthen hospital spaces and inclusive in multi-ethnic contexts of vulnerability and precarious resources, both for local communities and for displaced populations. Along with the University of Glasgow, founding members of the Network include The American University in Cairo, the Regional Center for Multidisciplinary Research (CRIM) of the UNAM, IBBY Mexico, the Egyptian Board on Books for Young People ( EBBY) and the Ministry of Culture of Mexico (Dirección General de Publicaciones). This initial phase of the project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council / "Global Challenges" Research Fund of the United Kingdom (AHRC-GCRF).

During that week in Mexico, the members of the “Safe Spaces” Network participated in the International Meeting of Mediators and Promoters of Reading in Migrant Contexts (November 6 and 7 in the city of Chihuahua) hosted by the State and Federal authorities of the National Program Reading from the Mexican Ministry of Culture. More than 50 mediators and reading promoters from different parts of Mexico, from Baja California to Chiapas, participated in this meeting together with guests from Egypt and Central America, sharing experiences and readings through presentations and workshops. In this space, the Mexican mediators shared the results of the cultural intervention projects carried out with migrant populations, which were derived from the training carried out with the “Leer con migrantes” project, created by Evelyn Arizpe on behalf of the Ministry of Culture.

This programme has involved more than 200 people, including reading mediators and promoters, managers, artists, teachers, librarians, public officials, human rights defenders, psychologists, doctors, educators and members of religious communities. They work in spaces such as migrant refuges but also in detention centres and community centres in rural areas. Some of the them had recently been working with the so called "migrant caravan".

The members of the Network also visited the building that houses IBBY-Mexico; the Vasconcelos Library in Mexico City and the 38th International Children and Youth Book Fair (FILIJ). One of the objectives of the Network was to expand its members and was achieved through inviting various Central American institutions and NGOs, including IBBY-El Salvador (La Biblioteca de los sueños), the Riecken Foundation (Honduras-Guatem ala), the Libros para niños (Nicaragua), the Hilda Rothstein Foundation (El Salvador) and Rafael Landívar University (Guatemala). A website will be launched at the beginning of 2019 which will house information about Network members and suggestions for the selection of texts and downloadable resources for training will be opened. In addition, it will be a portal for the contribution of new materials to ensure the  sustainability and expansion of the Network.

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