Visualising the invisible: using visual ethnography to explore extra-institutional activism of migrants and ethnic minorities

Project Coordinator: Dr. Piotr Goldstein

When members of ethnic minorities or migrants are approached by the media or academia, contact is usually made through institutions. For the study of Polish migrants, Polish parishes and NGOs are typical entry points; for Jewish research subjects, synagogues and Jewish community centres are popular; and for gaining access to the Hungarian diaspora, Hungarian cultural centres play a key role.

Such approaches create the image of minority or migrant activism which is self-centred and focuses primarily on subjects’ own communities. This image does little to break down the stereotype of migrants and members of ethnic minorities as a burden on society—a view perpetuated by contemporary populism across Europe.

This project focuses on activism of migrants and members of ethnic minorities that happens outside key minority or migrant institutions and therefore remains invisible to the media and academic research. It builds on Piotr Goldstein’s previous research, which has resulted in the production of Active (citizen), a thirty-minute ethnographic documentary co-authored by him and Jan Lorenz of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. Goldstein is working on further outputs to explore the overlooked contributions of this minority and migrant activism and highlight its value to the general public.