"These are children! Not refugees ... just children." As clearly as the 4-year-old in the interview sees it, the story is unfortunately rarely told from this perspective today: people are judged by their origin - and these origins are demonized. A policy of fear on the backs of people in need.
Who sows fear, wants to reap power. Language is a tool of power, the choice of words in politics rarely is a coincidence. Especially right-wing politicians often use cognitive science techniques to their advantage: when talking about refugee waves, and at the same time highlighting crime rate without the context. Stereotypical images are very often used to strengthen one's own position.
But language is also a means of empowerment .Which storytelling can help to transition from fear to courage? Can information and interaction help to reclaim a narrative of dignity and respect? Do we need stories that are about pride, and not prejudice?
Co-curated with Reworks Agora from Thessaloniki.
This event is part of the We Are Europe festival cooperation!
Photography Alexandros Oikonomidis
Participating in the "Changing the narrative" discussion
powered by the Elevate Festival - Reworks Agora
Argyro Barata curates the content of Reworks Agora, the forward thinking forum of Reworks Festival that promotes the future developments of the cultural industries in Thessaloniki, Greece. Shaping a new urban mentality with participatory practices motivated her to support in her hometown urban activist initiatives like Thessaloniki Otherwise and Anti-Dimitria in the past, while in 2014 she co-founded FEAST Greece, an offline crowdfunding platform that brings civic projects to life. She is member of CitizensLab, a European network of 55 organizations, which prototypes innovative cultural solutions for today’s social challenges.
Vasilis is currently running the art project Small Room by Asklepeion and researches around Europe for refugees’ integration.
Vasilis Tsartsanis began his career as hairdresser and has also worked as technical advisor in 2 multinational cosmetics companies. His participation in Libya for the interview of Muammar Gaddafi and his work in Athens 2004 Olympic Games affected his views. He broadened further his horizons as production member in the Greek TV Show «Balkan Express» which explored the common customs of people in Balkans and Middle East.
When his homeland Greece became the scenery of the refugee crisis he immediately responded. Vasilis was the first activist to arrive in the infamous Idomeni borderline in 2014 and the last to leave in 2017. He voluntarily organized humanitarian aid to the refugees whose stories he knows better than everyone and was soon invited to address the European Parliament informing also the international media upon the subject. He was not supported by any large organization, only by his fellow citizens.
Born in Athens, Andromachi Papaioannou has lived in Greece, UK and Italy.
She holds a BA in Political Science, a MA in Social Anthropology and a PHD in International Cooperation and Sustainable Development Policies. Living in Athens since 2010, she has worked on refugee and migration issues as both a researcher and a social activist, gaining a long experience in policies, legislation, consultancy and advocacy. In May 2016, Andromachi joined UNHCR and she is currently deployed in Thessaloniki.
Founder of “Gib mir deine Hand”(“Give me your hand”), a private NGO offering support and assistance to refugees.
Doro Blancke, born in Linz/Upper Austria in 1961, living in Graz, Styria, Austria, two adult children, ceramics artist, human rights and refugee activist. Founder of “Gib mir deine Hand”(“Give me your hand”), a private NGO offering support and assistance to refugees. 2015: working daily at the border with Slovenia in Spielfeld for two months. Organised and directed various projects: Let’s cook 2gether (refugees and Austrians cooking together), streetwork with refugees at the central train station in Graz. Numerous activities to foster a peaceful co-existence between the various groups our society is made up of. 2017: Candidate of the Styrian group of “Liste Pilz”, responsible for integration/social peace.
“The leeway for a humane and constructive refugee policy is becoming smaller and smaller. Fears amongst the local population in Austria have been intentionally stirred up. It is a matter of great importance to me to raise awareness through my daily work, to help reduce fears, and to ensure that refugees are given the rights they are entitled to and treated as humans. In doing so, I hope to make a contribution which at the end of the day will benefit all of us."
Nicola Baloch, born 1971 in Graz, lives with her family in Graz. After graduating in translation studies and training to become a DaZ trainer, she is involved as a project manager in the intercultural, interreligious and social field at the OMEGA Transcultural Centre and the Afro-Asian Institute Graz. As a co-founder of the movement and the association Graz Spendenkonvoi, Verein für den Menschlichen Umgang mit Schutzsuchenden, she is active in the field of refugee aid and traveled in the period 2015-2017 with aid convoys organized by the association to several borders of the Westbalkan-route as far as Greece and also to Italy.