What happens when undocumented Bangladeshi and Pakistani men in Greece pick up their cell phones to record their lives as migrant agricultural workers? From mid-2018 – late-2021, four groups of South Asian migrant men collaborated with myself, a researcher working on migrant precarity in Greece, to take photos, videos, and record audio testimonies about their work and living conditions. They used cellphones and WhatsApp, a free phone app, to share testimonies, and have closed group discussions about the images and stories they were collecting.
The keynote elaborates on the process of this collaboration that has culminated in a travelling multi-media exhibition and a digital archive. I discuss the lessons learnt from the adaptation of Photovoice strategy, an arts-based social justice tool, as the migrant workers struggled with COVID-19 lockdowns with attendant job loss, increased workplace precarity, heightened state surveillance, and public discourses pathologizing them as disease-carriers. I speak about the challenges and strengths of an uneasy co-ethnic insider-outsider identity and also strategies that the men and myself adopted to somewhat overcome the (dis)privileges that we embodied. I conclude by discussing the men’s participation as an act of resistance against their dehumanization, and othering.
Dr. Kukreja’s multi-media exhibition, ‘This IS Evidence‘, a co-creative work by groups of undocumented South Asian male migrants in Greece, is hosted by the International Migration Research Centre and the Balsillie School of International Affairs and will be on display at the BSIA. The keynote on Thursday November 17, 2022, is being held in conjunction with the second annual Queen’s-BSIA International Migration and Mobilities Graduate Seminar (Queen’s-BSIA IMMGS) on Friday, November 18, 2022 at the Balsillie School of Internal Affairs at Wilfrid Laurier University. The theme of this year’s Symposium is Borders and (Un)Bordering: Analyzing Migration and Mobility Through Pandemic Times. The QB-IMMGS is supported by the Balsillie School of International Affairs and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the School of Graduate Studies, Queen’s University. For further details please visit the Symposium website. https://wp3.its.queensu.ca/gsmmwww/or send an email to: [email protected].
About the speaker
Reena Kukreja is Assistant Professor in the Department of Global Development Studies with cross appointment to Gender Studies Department and affiliation with the Cultural Studies Program at Queen’s University, Canada. Her research interests and filmmaking practice is focused on migration and development, gender, marriage migration, masculinities, political economy, caste, and collaborative research methods. She has directed several award-winning documentaries on rural women in India and South Asia.