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Open Access Borders, risk and belonging: Challenges for arts-based research in understanding the lives of women asylum seekers and migrants ‘at the borders of humanity’

This article critically discusses the experiences of women who are seeking asylum in the North East of England and women who are mothers with no recourse to public funds living in London to address the questions posed by the special issue. It argues both epistemologically and methodologically for the benefits of undertaking participatory arts-based, ethno-mimetic, performative methods with women and communities to better understand women’s lives, build local capacity in seeking policy change, as well as contribute to theorizing necropolitics through praxis. Drawing upon artistic outcomes of research funded by the Leverhulme Trust on borders, risk and belonging, and collaborative research funded by the ESRC/NCRM using participatory theatre and walking methods, the article addresses the questions posed by the special issue: how is statelessness experienced by women seeking asylum and mothers with no recourse to public funds? To what extent are their lived experiences marked by precarity, social and civil death? What does it mean to be a woman and a mother in these precarious times, ‘at the borders of humanity’? Where are the spaces for resistance and how might we as artists and researchers ‐ across the arts, humanities and social sciences ‐ contribute and activate?

Keywords: No Recourse to Public Funds policy; PAR; United Kingdom; decolonial epistemologies; ethno-mimesis; migration; necropolitics; women migrants

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • The course of cultures at both local and global levels is crucially affected by migratory movements. In turn, culture itself is turned migrant. This journal will advance the study of the plethora of cultural texts on migration produced by an increasing number of cultural practitioners across the globe who tackle questions of culture in the context of migration. They do this in a variety of ways and through a variety of media. To name but a few relevant aspects of this juncture of migration and culture, questions of dislocation, travel, borders, diasporic identities, transnational contacts and cultures, cultural memory, the transmission of identity across generations, questions of hybridity and cultural difference, the material and oral histories of migration and the role of new technologies in bridging cultures and fostering cultural cross-pollination will all be relevant. Methodologies of research will include both the study of 'texts' and fieldwork.
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