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Postgraduate research project

Creating sanctuary: resilience & arts-based initiatives in asylum seeker settings

Competition funded View fees and funding
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree or equivalent, plus English Language (where appropriate) View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Closing date

About the project

Blending anthropology, arts-based practice, cultural studies and psychology, this participatory research engages in, reflexively appraises, and critically evaluates creative and arts-based methods carried out in sanctuary initiatives for refugees or asylum seekers which enable creative expressions of the experience of adversity and positive adaptation, reflective of resilience.

Drawing on expertise in anthropology, creative arts, cultural studies and psychology, this project explores the nexus between sanctuary seeking, mental health and the arts. To date there is little comparative research on the work of arts organisations and creative projects in generating benefits for displaced people. This project will explore what is still a novel and experimental field. 

It sets out to identify and describe the landscape of refugee arts initiatives to map its range, ambition and impact and the ways mental health and wellbeing are addressed within it. Through focused ethnographic case studies, the project will comparatively examine the cultural meanings and expressive perceptions of psychological health and resilience in relation to sanctuary. The project will endeavour to gauge the potential of creative and arts-based practices in improving mental health and wellbeing of refugee populations. For stakeholder impact the project will curate a small exhibition and workshop emerging from the research.  

The student will develop their research skills and theoretical understanding informed by practice across disciplines. Interdisciplinary training will be given in ethical ethnographic practice, critical and creative curation, and psychological evaluation and inference-making by a multilingual specialist team led by Everett (Winchester School of Art), Armbruster (Anthropology/Language) co-convener of the Debating Ethnography research group, board member of the Centre for Transnational Studies and founding member of the University of Sanctuary group and Kreppner (Psychology) member of the Centre for Innovations in Mental Health. The supervisory team will encourage the student to make connections between the concepts/ideas/perspectives.

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