School of Politics and International Relations

Survivors' Voices, Stories, and Images

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Survivors' Voices, Stories, and Images: Survivor-Led Empowerment Through Ethical Story-Telling and Participatory Photography in Kenya

Funder: Arts and Humanities Research Council (originally ARC GCRF Network+ Anti-Slavery Knowledge Network)
PI: Dr Helen McCabe, Associate Professor
Duration: February 2021 to August 2022

The Arts and Humanities Research Council have funded a follow-on project from an original project funded by the Anti-Slavery Knowledge Network (an AHRC GCRF Netowrk+) whereby investigators from the University of Nottingham and researchers at Azadi in Kenya are working together with survivors of human trafficking through engagement with arts-based methods such as participatory photography and ethical storytelling in work aimed at amplifying their voices and raising awareness of their experiences in different communities. This has already led to the creation (in Azadi) of a ground-breaking new survivor-led anti-trafficking organisation, which aims at meeting all a survivors’ on-going needs for community and reintegration.

As a result of this initiative we have launched an online exhibition of photographs taken by survivor-participants which is available here, and also hosted an in-person exhibition in Nairobi and in Liverpool. The stories written by survivor-participants in the project are available on Worldreader. Workshops have also led to music videos and animated films, and other capacity-building activity in Kenya, including developing new suggestions for anti-trafficking and refugee policy by survivors, and presenting those to relevant parliamentary and policy-making stakeholders. 

As part of the project, which had to change to working mainly remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have produced a toolkit for working in an ethical way remotely. This includes practical advice about software and hardware, ethics approvals, and support as well as further resources. Kenyan project lead Sophie Otiende has also produced a toolkit for ethical antislavery work. Our experience shows this can be done, and done well, even when working remotely, if time and thought is put into planning it (and research teams are flexible where needed).

You can listen to members of our research team's reflections on the process of working with survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking below. Here you can hear from our ethical story-telling lead (Aisha Ali Hajji); our participatory photography lead (Rehema Baya); and our survivor-researcher lead (Sophie Otiende).

Aisha Ali Hajji

Rehema Baya 

Sophie Otiende



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