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  • March 1, 2021

By Lisa Ahenkona

Our project called Shifting The Gaze is part of the Other Talk program, a collaboration between 11.11.11 and Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen. We are conducting research from our research group CEMESO (meanwhile CEMESO and Desire have merged into ECHO) on how people with a migration background want to be portrayed. The whole idea is mainly based on the negative representation that now exists in reporting on migration. We want to work together with a group of refugees to explore and convey a more nuanced message.

In the first phase of the project, a needs assessment was carried out in which media experts and social workers from non-profit organizations were asked about their experiences with 'imaging' and 'migration'.

In the second phase of this project, we further consider an appropriate methodology to produce personal stories in a visual co-creation project with people with a migration background. The participative element refers to the inclusive approach we envision. In this project the viewpoints and experiences of the participant are central. We want to give them a voice that is also heard. The visual element serves to support the message/story we want to tell. Sometimes words alone don’t express enough.


In recent months, researcher Lisa Ahenkona has started a process together with a group of undocumented migrants from Samenlevingsopbouw Brussel, in which they will work on that image. This is a longer process in which we want to appeal to the wider public (outreach through mediapartners) and make them think about the human face of migration. As a first step, we have now made a short video with this group about how people without legal residence experience the lockdown. This has already been shared on the FB pages of Samenlevingsopbouw BrusselSans Papiers TvWTNSCHP and Bruzz.

To learn more about the project, please contact  Kevin Smets ( or Lisa Ahenkona (