Intervention Day 1..

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Initially we debated Philip’s immigrant identity – she believed that he had “status” which allowed for a classification apart from immigrant. Could this be connected to the conflation of race issues in immigration discourse?
It was a beautiful exchange, and we agreed upon the fact that actually Phillip was an immigrant. His status has since changed, but, immigrants are not a specific other. It is simply a migrant in a country that is not their own.
On the narratives of the press, she expressed mistrust and skepticism at the discourse stating, “I don’t judge people until I see it for myself”
“no one is better than me, and I’m no better than anyone else, we’re all equal”

This lady was exceptional. South London born and raised, she shared much, and asked much about my own journey. She brought up BREXIT and was disappointed more people weren’t out on the streets campaigning to remain.

All around enjoyable encounter. The lady had preconceptions of what immigration means, but believed in the inherent good in people, identifying media and dominant narratives as culprit for anti-immigrant views.

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Gentleman was accompanied by his camera shy wife – who did most of the talking..
Retold a story of Prince Philip being “born on a kitchen table in Greece”.
This jolly and amiable couple were correct. When asked how they felt about him being an immigrant, they replied by stating his military service in the second world war has earned a place in the country.
Perhaps this was due to the negative associations formed when hearing the word immigrant, or perhaps my agenda shone through the mask of neutrality I attempted to present. Regardless, there was a sense of deserving a place in the country.
I was unable to delve deeper into this idea of earning one’s place in the country due to the location and nature of these short and playful interactions. But this may align with prior research, on the ideas of the benefits of the country and the distribution of host resources.

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This gentleman was unsure, but guessed England.
When informed that Prince Philip was an immigrant, he was relatively shocked. It was beyond surprised and prompted some internal thoughts that I was unable to learn.
This gentleman migrated here recently, and was unfamiliar with much of British history. However, he was familiar with the narratives in the press. Which I believe caused his shock at learning that the royal family itself is comprised of immigrants.

 

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Intervention: Continued

It went very well. Engaging members of public with the research was actually great fun. This project has been quite a drain, researching some of the worst in public discourse, having to dive into some fairly demoralising and at times infuriating research. This however, like the workshop was an energising experience. I actually told one lady that she’d restored my faith in humanity.. 90% true.

Centred on the public perception of immigration, an image of Prince Philip was shown to visitors accompanied by the question “where was he born?”.

A broad range of shoppers participated – ranging from recent immigrants, naturalised citizens and those who have lived their entire lives in south London. Designed to be a quick and playful interaction that presented an alternate perspective on immigration; participants need only answer a question and hear a short response as to the Prince’s immigrant status. No more than two minutes from start to finish. In actuality, the intervention served as an excellent entry point to further discussion with members of the local community. The average time spent with each person was over fifteen minutes. The issue of immigration is close to many people’s hearts, and many people have opinions and are willing to hear alternative perspectives.

I originally created this to test the effect on the narrative. Again, like the workshop, it would seem that I encountered people already open to immigration. Much data points to the bubble of London – in a city as culturally diverse as this it is no wonder. There is no doubt, that I need to continue this research in other locations – perhaps my hometown of Newcastle, where the benefits of immigration are less widely acknowledged.

There is still valuable insight here into how further iterations can be applied, and one thing I am sure of, is that these methods are effective means of engaging people with ideas. I will continue to pursue the answers to these questions and others, in the coming months.

Intervention

Having experienced and reflected on the workshop, I feel compelled to take the issue to the streets. Not to cultivate empathy, but to challenge the narrative. I want to talk to people and learn their views on immigration, and one theme that emerged from the workshop was the idea of representation of migrants post brexit.

I imagine an intervention at the site of the free newspapers, perhaps a QR code that directs the user to this short interaction – an alternate narrative to that contained in the free paper they just took.

This brief interaction involves identifying the birthplace of a recognisable British figure. I tested the idea through conversation with a few strangers I encountered and it proved an interesting conversation starter.

The list includes: Rupert Murdoch, Prince Philip, Marks and Spencers founder, Boris Johnson, Cliff Richard.. And many others. All immigrants.

I want to take a rapid prototype out on the street to test it and so have applied for permission to set up in the Elephant and castle shopping centre ASAP.

The Workshop

Went really well. Participants were really forthcoming, had some great perspectives and had a genuine interest in the issues we were discussing.

The collage format worked very well. Providing activities that kept us busy, but allowed us to discuss issues at the same time. It was also a very good method of externalising internal thoughts, feelings and beliefs. It would appear that the value asserted by IDEO is valid.

It was a lot of fun, and personally felt like a great environment to be in. Good vibes.

In terms of empathy levels, these people already cared! I feel that the next iteration must include people with far lower levels of empathy for and engagement with migrants.

The icebreaker has a lot of potential, it creates discussion from a position of empathy, where participants share the reasons for taking one item – the only item  they could keep if they were forced to migrate.

I actually feel there is potential for a speculative workshop here also and would certainly like to experiment with different playful, engaging and productive activities in the workshop format.

Images follow.

The Workshop: UAL Refugee Week

I was unaware that there was a UAL refugee week, but through contacting a number of UAL societies with a similar focus have been able to hold the workshop as one of the week’s listed events. They require me to create a facebook and eventbrite page. Now completed..

This is the description used:

“We’re inviting students, refugees and residents from all types of cultural backgrounds to come together and engage in a hands-on creative workshop.

Participants can expect to share ideas around migration, empathy and communication, before applying these ideas in a creative and playful process – designing a gesture of welcome to our refugee and migrant communities.

There will be access to both traditional craft materials and technical support for the electronic prototyping platform arduino, so participants are encouraged to imagine and experiment with finding creative and playful methods to communicate their welcome message.”

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