Over the course of the three workshops, the project will address the following research questions:

  1. What are the specific obstacles women face when reporting their testimonies of sexual violence as part of the asylum process?
  2. In what ways might the arts and humanities be utilised as a means to bring to light the issues women encounter when narrating their experiences?
  3. Research has shown legal avenues for expression are too constraining. The project poses the question: in what ways can the arts and humanities move beyond the legal parameters of expression and offer voice to women in the asylum process?
  4. How might cross-sector discourse and knowledge exchange inform an understanding of the issues women encounter when telling their narratives that involve sexual violence?
  5. How might creative outputs that represent the issues surrounding women’s testimonies be used in campaigning for positive change?

Workshop I: Asylum, Translation, Voice and Testimony (Université Paris 8), 06 September, 2018

The objective of this international workshop is to examine the restrictions imposed upon women’s voices in the context of reporting sexual violence as part of their migration experience in the UK and in France. Professor Rashida Manjoo (former UN Special Rapporteur for Violence Against Women) will address the gender injustice dimensions of the asylum process in a keynote paper. Key speakers include Debora Singer, MBE, (Senior Policy Adviser, Asylum Aid); Rehab Jameel (Protection Gap Advocate and member of Asylum Aid’s Women’s Advisory Committee); and Professor Jane Freedman (Université Paris 8). The workshop will bring together academics from France and the UK, immigration lawyers, and representatives from public facing bodies, women refugees and asylum seekers, and creative writers. It will facilitate a cross sector and interdisciplinary exchange of knowledge and experience in relation to taking testimonies and translation. Case studies of women’s testimonies will be examined with regard to language, translation and testimony. These will be examined alongside the current procedure of seeking asylum, in particular the interview process.

Workshop One Programme in French

Workshop One Programme in English

The workshop was interpreted in French and English. A detailed report on the workshop, including images and recordings of the keynotes and panel discussion can be found on the Workshop One page.

Workshop II Feminist Activisms, Representation, and Ethics: Amplifying Voices in the Asylum Process. Friday 25th June, 2021. Online. 1pm-4:30pm [closed workshop].

The objective of this final international workshop is to examine the restrictions imposed upon women’s voices in the context of reporting violence as part of their migration experience in the UK and globally. The workshop is comprised of two panels. The first panel (1:00-1:45pm), ‘Activisms’, will be comprised of four position papers from representatives from public-facing bodies who work with women seeking asylum who are survivors of violence. The second panel, ‘The Challenges of Representation’ (2:00-2:45pm) will consist of four position papers from scholars and activists on the challenges and ethics of representation. The panel papers will be followed by an extended discussion and question and answers session (3:00-4:00/4:30pm). This will create a forum for knowledge exchange and the development of ideas.

The final workshop will function as plenary forum whereby participants from across the disciplines of law and literature, and members of NGOs come together to explore the way in which the arts and humanities can empower women’s voices. The workshop format allows for practical collaboration and discussion between writers and participants from public-facing bodies as a means to experiment with new ways of voicing women’s narratives. Artists and writers will be invited to participate alongside scholars from law who specialise in asylum and gender whose research focuses on language and asylum claims, alongside leading figures from public facing bodies. Through a series of papers and roundtables, the workshop will create a cross-disciplinary forum for knowledge exchange. The final roundtable will discuss forms of narrative and performance that can empower women’s voices and which can be used by NGOs in their campaigns.

The report for this workshop will be made available here on 01 August 2021.