The Arts of Integration: Scottish policies of refugee integration and the role of the creative and performing arts
The focus of my research is an exploration of the relationship between participatory arts practice, and the experiences of integration, place-making and belonging for individuals seeking asylum and those with refugee status in the Glasgow. This is framed by the UK Government’s strategies for creating a hostile immigration environment and the policy context of the Scottish Government’s New Scots Strategy, which puts forward a vision of integration that is two-way and driven from a Rights-based approach. It also takes place at a time when there is an increased interest in migration and refugee narratives as a starting point for artistic projects globally, with a growing scholarly interest around how this work manifests, and contributes both epistemologically and ontologically to contemporary understandings of refugee experiences.
My research takes a critical approach to the instrumentalisation of applied arts practice, as a tool for delivering on policy, and equally I begin my work from a position of critique towards the concept of integration. My thesis will seek to interrogate and theorise questions of authorship, representation, authenticity, hospitality and ethics, by seeking to
- trace and articulate the unique qualities of arts engagement for individuals negotiating themselves through the asylum and refugee system, and what opportunities creative processes offer that other sources of community engagement or development may not;
- understand how arts engagement ties in with identity, emotional integration and supporting the articulation of social or political voices within new geographical settings;
- identify models of creative practice that are best placed to ensure participants are informing and where possible leading the direction of the work;
- question how arts engagement can open up the potential for refugee and asylum-seeking artists and community members to have a long-term impact upon Glasgow’s wider cultural landscape;
- engage in processes of creative practice and arts-based methodologies of research as a way of contributing new ways for the academy to understand, conceptualise and challenge integration
My approach to this work is to occupy the position of Artist Researcher, combining a practice-led approach with an anthropological inquiry, rooted in collaborative practices and person-centred knowledge generation. Over the course of my research I will be developing and participating in projects, as well as hosting ongoing reflective research sessions with those I am working with, and the work that develops out of these encounters will manifest in academic papers, as well as – where appropriate - public sharings open to the wider public. My thesis will weave together theory and practice influenced by my own embodied learning, the input of my collaborators and the critical scholars who challenge me throughout the journey.
Contributed towards: Phipps, A, 2017, Research for CULT Committee – Why cultural work with refugees, European Parliament, Policy Department for Structural and Cohesion Policies, Brussels
10/2015: AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award with the Scottish Refugee Council 2015/16
03/2018: Participatory Theatre Practice and Refugee Narratives, REACT Festival, Bristol
06/2018: Creative Spaces, Self-Authorship and Mutual Interdependence, Art, Materiality and Representation Conference, Royal Anthropological Institute, The Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas of the British Museum and the Department of Anthropology at SOAS
11/2017: Re-constructing a new self-portrait: the space for artistic practice within the discourses of integration, Connecting Communities Conference, The University of Greenwich in collaboration with Open University and the University of York
I enter my PHD with twelve years of experience working as a theatre-maker, facilitator and activist. I specialise in participatory or applied theatre practitioner, where I engage with multiple art-forms, and have a process that centres around people, collaboration and co-creation. I am the Artistic Director of A Moment’s Peace Theatre Company, whose reputation for delivering innovative participatory arts projects across Scotland continues to grow: www.amomentpspeace.co.uk, and have a history of creating work focused on refugee and asylum issues. I am committed to developing the relationship between arts and activism in order to resist structural and cultural inequalities.
Recent work includes include: I Hear The Image Moving (Tramway/Scottish Refuugee Council), The Land Beneath Our Feet (Dundee Rep), Endurance (A Moment’s Peace Theatre Company), Dear Scotland (National Theatre of Scotland), Leaving Planet Earth (Grid Iron/Edinburgh International Festival); Some Other Mother by AJ Taudevin, The Sweet Silver Song of the Lark by Molly Taylor (Oran Mor) and Thank You (Oran Mor).