Participatory Migration Exhibition to Tour Region
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Following the onset of the European migration crisis in 2015 there has been a marked increase in xenophobia and anti-migrant sentiment in many European countries. In 2015, the European Commission’s surveying mechanism Eurobarometer reported that immigration was perceived as the second biggest challenge within the EU, up 33 percentage points within two years. Visegrad countries were all above the average and worries about social changes were most common.
No other region of the world is more divided on Gallup's new Migrant Acceptance Index either, where scores range from a high of 7.92 in Sweden to a low of 1.69 in Hungary. In this context, where negative perceptions of migrants and migration are rampant, there is a need for countermeasures to promote acceptance, understanding and appreciation of cultural differences. Without it – xenophobic messages and anti-migrant hatred will not subside.
Outcast Europe is a project aiming to improve conditions for intercultural dialogue and civic participation. In a period of 18-months (September 2017 - February 2019), it will involve 1,200 citizens from six countries (Greece, Bulgaria, FYR Macedonia, Hungary, Czech Republic and Serbia) with distinct roles and policy agendas throughout the ongoing migration crisis.
The purpose of the programme is to improve conditions for intercultural dialogue and civic participation through the presentation of various experiences with migration in the past and present. Reflecting on current debates around migration, the programme is expected to cultivate empathy and understanding towards “outsiders” and stimulate active engagement in the process of migrants’ integration.
During the course of the project a participatory exhibition will be organized in each of the participating countries, consisting of collections of materials (videos, photos, drawings, books) related to the past and current migration experiences of that particular region. Parallel to the exhibition participants will also organize side events to attract diverse audiences and enhance the learning aspect of the project. These events will include different workshops and other non-formal learning activities in order to enable discussion on migration and integration, as well as to enhance intercultural awareness (e.g. learning games, living library, movie screenings).
After the exhibitions, each participant will organize a daily conference titled “Mapping the Ongoing Migration Crisis in the EU”. Within the framework of these conferences debates will be organized, structured as panel discussions. The sessions aspire to foster a comprehensive understanding of needs of multiple groups and to advance socially and economically sustainable policies. Policy recommendations will therefore derive from an inclusive, bottom-up process involving both local citizens and migrants. Panelists will be experts with different professional backgrounds, including academia, policy making, politics and journalism.
The project will be closed with an exhibition in Greece, consisting of all the exhibition materials from the participating countries as well as a conference to present various findings from the different regions.
IOM’s Regional Director for South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Argentina Szabados, recently paid a visit to the exhibition, describing it as “a superb idea, beautifully done, most innovative, with moving visuals, voice recordings, documents, photos, and personal items of migrants from seismic migration events like Hungary ‘56 to today’s mass movements from Syria and other conflicts.”