Using body-mapping to share refugee stories

The recent British Academy Summer Showcase featured Dr Yafa Shanneik's research and explored the ways in which refugee women who have settled in new countries still face challenges in their everyday lives.

The two-day festival of ideas brought humanities and social sciences research to life through interactive exhibits pop-up talks, workshops and performances, including Dr Shanneik’s ‘Narratives of Displacement’ exhibit alongside artist Rachel Gadsden.

The project enabled women, now living in the UK, Germany and Jordan, to narrate the life- changing events of war and migration they have lived through and the impact on their families through body-mapping, by creating  artworks that tell their stories. 

These pieces will continue to be brought to life through live performance and music, with regular workshops explaining the process of body-mapping. The workshop is part of Dr Shanneik’s British Academy-funded research project that focuses on the changing nature of family structures, within sexual and conjugal relationships among Iraqi and Syrian refugee women in their receiving countries.

Dr Shanneik said: “We’re aiming to contribute to changing wider society’s attitudes to refugees, provide insights into the lived realities of refugees in Europe and the challenges they are facing.

Using the artistic technique of body mapping has proven to be so helpful for helping participants to embody the emotional and psychological pain caused by their refugee experiences through art.”

A body mapping session

Participants paint round the outline of a young child

Dr Yafa Shanneik is Lecturer in Islamic Studies in the Department of Theology and Religion.

For more information about the recent body-mapping workshops visit: https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/blog/summer-showcase-2019-iraqi-syrian-refugees-body-mapping