‘Arts for Advocacy’ is an inter-disciplinary research project funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund at the universities of Edinburgh and Keele. It seeks to develop innovative, interdisciplinary, and participatory arts-based methods to facilitate critical engagement and advocacy relating to forced displacement in Morocco. Morocco has become a country of transit and immigration, notably for sub-Saharan migrants fleeing a range of socio-economic and political precariousness as well as more recently for those fleeing the enduring conflict in Syria. Morocco is also a strategic partner for the EU and some of its individual members, such as Spain, in the ‘management’ of migration across the Mediterranean. Although Morocco has featured little in recent depictions of the ‘migration crisis’, more research is needed to examine unravelling changes especially since the announcement by the Moroccan King of a more ‘humanitarian’ approach to migration in 2013. In this context, issues pertaining to interculturality, migrants’ rights, violence, and racism in Morocco crucially require new modes of engagement for both research and advocacy.
Four research questions drive this project:
Researchers, practitioners, and activists support the emergent deployment of arts-based methods as social research tools to engage with displaced communities, pointing to the positive contribution and transformative power of creative arts for advocacy and research on forced displacement. However, this growing emphasis on participatory and interdisciplinary arts-based methods is usually limited to the ‘global north’. In contrast, this project adapts this methodological approach in the context of forced displacement in Morocco.
The Project Partners include GADEM (an anti-racism NGO supporting migrants in Morocco), ALECMA (a migrants’ association in Rabat), DABATEATR (an artists’ collective in Morocco) and GRAMNET (a UK-based refugee, asylum and migration network). Our Project Partners in Morocco and the UK are actively engaged in fostering critical engagement and improving political discourse and social acceptance in Morocco. Research activities co-designed and co-delivered in Morocco with our Project Partners include arts-based intercultural workshops for members of the ‘host’ and ‘forcibly displaced’ communities as well as transnational knowledge exchange forums for practitioners, activists and researchers.
Project objectives are: