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Participatory Theatre for Transformative Social Research

Migrant Mothers participatory theatre workshop image
New research challenges pathologising representations of migrant mothers and contributes to debate on democratising the research process.






Recurring public discourses continue to cast migrant mothers as threats to social and cultural cohesion, taking from – rather than contributing to – the welfare state. Now, drawing on a project with socially and ethnically marginalised migrant mothers in London, a new paper reframes the mothers’ experiences and practices as active interventions into citizenship.

In Participatory Theatre for Transformative Social Research, Umut Erel, Tracey Reynolds and Erene Kapitani explore the potential of participatory theatre methods to contest such public discourses by providing the mothers with creative spaces in which to validate their caring and culture work.

Participatory theatre as a research method can be mobilised for social transformation on several levels. First, participants can build a community in which to share their experiences. Second, participants and researchers can make experiences of oppression visible, in the process becoming more conscious of the power relations at work and analysing how these operate in concrete, embodied situations. In addition, they can also use the theatre sessions to rehearse different options for intervening and challenging these situations, ultimately changing the course of action.

By emphasising the potential of the method for social transformation, the article contributes to debates on democratising the research process and the relationships between researchers and participants. By working together as producers of knowledge, it concludes, participants and researchers can transform the process of social research.

Read Participatory Theatre for Transformative Social Research.