return to home page

[ BACK to Centre Cannot Hold menu ]

Intro to The Centre Cannot Hold project

Climate Justice, Science & Refugees EVENT

Climate Testimonies video-digital training



a pilot project by virtual migrants in association with MRSN and RICC

This pilot project will use video and multimedia techniques to compile testimonial data from people of refugee backgrounds, promote discussion about the current effects of climate change,  and explore how changes may affect Manchester, including prospects for future migration, refuge and asylum. 

The project is taking place in the form of a video and digital media training project - full details HERE.

The results will be presented as part of a discussion workshop event on Weds 27th October 2010, "CLIMATE JUSTICE, SCIENCE AND REFUGEES" - full details HERE.

Increasing numbers of people in the UK are sceptical of man-made climate change, outnumbering those who accept climate change as man-made.  Many local members of refugee communities have recent personal experiences and observations from their originating countries which are able to testify to environmental change.  By enabling local refugees to express first-hand observations from countries they have recently migrated from, collaborating with scientists and social scientists to discuss their data, local people can intimately appreciate changing conditions in other countries.  At the same time, it is an opportunity to raise discussion in the UK about the global connections between race and climate, and also how they may impact on issues such as asylum in Europe and the West.

In this century, most of the world’s population is predicted to die as a result of climate change, the majority of these will be in poor countries and the single greatest impact of climate change could be on human migration.  A pilot project is being developed involving three organisations to begin to make a change.  These organisations are the arts, digital media and cultural group Virtual Migrants, the Research Institute for Cosmopolitan Cultures (RICC) at Manchester University, and also Manchester Refugee Support Network (MRSN) who are supporting the project.  This work will link in as a part of “The Centre Cannot Hold” project initiated by Virtual Migrants in 2009.
The pilot project is beginning by involving a group of over a dozen members from a range of refugee groups around Greater Manchester who are interested to discuss how we, as migrants, communities and people who want change, can begin to work together and build on our own experience and knowledge about what is happening.  As a part of the project there will be a chance to learn more about climate change and how it will affect migration and our communities.
The method by which this group will do this will be using video and digital media, in the form of a training module during which the participants will also develop creative digital media skills towards producing an audio-visual presentation.  This will be shown as a part of the special discussion and cultural event on Weds 27th October,
"CLIMATE JUSTICE, SCIENCE AND REFUGEES".  The creative work will be led by Kooj Chuhan from Virtual Migrants, who also organised the recent digital training programme and other media projects for Exodus.  We also welcome those who have skills in talking to or interviewing other people or who would like training in research skills to join us in developing this project.


In addition to this participatory research through a cultural production process, there will be a multidisciplinary forum formed involving academics, community members and cultural workers which, before the interviews are conducted, will discuss what kinds of data and questions should be asked, and then after the interviews to analyse/discuss the results of the interviews and their potential.

Brief outline of activity:

  • MRSN will involve media group Virtual Migrants to train members of refugee communities in video interview and documenting techniques.  

  • A forum of scientists, social scientists and community members will jointly develop an interview and data acquisition format. 

  • The refugee members in collaboration with Virtual Migrants artists will use this as the basis to gather testimonial data from themselves and from migrants and local people interested to be interviewed using video interview methods.

  • This data will be transcribed by academic researchers and project staff.

  • The data will also be edited into key video clip components for archive, and also edited into a single presentation for discussion purposes.

  • A final forum will again bring together scientists, social scientists and community members to analyse and discuss the outputs and how to present them.

  • There will be a key event where this project will be presented to the public as a part of the science festival "CLIMATE JUSTICE, SCIENCE AND REFUGEES".

  • Other methods of dissemination will be via the web using YouTube and possibly a project blog.

Each partner brings unique strengths to this collective task.  Virtual Migrants has extensively used media arts to collect and present diverse community voices.  Research Institute for Cosmopolitan Cultures (RICC), comprising interdisciplinary researchers, can provide expertise in migration, climate change, and sustainable cities.  Manchester Refugee Support Network (MRSN) strives to give refugees a voice and works with grass-roots members in all of the geographical areas named in the guidelines.  Scientist Ernesto Hernandez has considerable knowledge of and networked links with climate change.  He has a personal interest in migration issues and communities such as refugees, based on knowledge and experience of Mexicans in the USA.  Simon Guy combines academic skills in engineering, sustainable architecture and sociology.

This really is a great opportunity to develop a fantastic project, and to begin an ongoing collaborative dialogue between these partners who have all expressed an interest to continue after this project.  The intention is for this to form the basis for a collaborative interest group and an ongoing forum towards a wider project.

   Supported by Manchester Beacon and Manchester University