A Creative Storytelling Project with Women Migrants in Johannesburg, South Africa (Dispatch)
Rebecca Walker and Elsa Oliveira (2020). ‘A Creative Storytelling Project with Women Migrants in Johannesburg, South Africa‘, Studies in Social Justice 14:1, 188-209, DOI: https://doi.org/10.26522/ssj.v2020i14.2218.
This dispatch is about an arts-based storytelling project that was undertaken in collaboration with a small group of women from across the African continent now living in Johannesburg, South Africa. The project, entitled, Mwangaza Mama (a name chosen by the women in the group) was motivated by a politically-driven desire to open up an intellectual and practical space for women to speak for themselves from multiple and varied standpoints. Over the course of two years, a core group of seven women (plus the two of us) met on a fortnightly basis to share stories of love, loss, and hardship while each of us worked on our individual textile stories. The project culminated in the production of three collective quilts, featuring everyone’s textile stories, and each participant wrote one to two narrative stories about a topic or experience that they wanted to share with public audiences. These visual and narrative artefacts, layered in symbols and metaphors, offer insights into the complex lives of women migrants, and the challenges and concerns identified by the participants. The women’s words and visuals also present what Chinua Achebe (2013) would call a “balance of stories,” meaning that their self-representations move beyond (and complicate) stereotypes of vulnerability that dominate representations by others about women who cross international borders.
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