New project begins!

We started our new project – Migration and Settlement, Extending the Welcome, on Monday 19th December at the Ark in Harehills, working with RETAS and their volunteers for their Christmas party. We worked with Fran, Bev and Steph to run music and singing workshops, create a fast-moving dramatic production of the nativity, and lead craft activities.


Arts-based research; research-based arts

James Simpson writes about arts-based research and research-based arts for the TLANG Project blog

tlang blog

James Simpson, University of Leeds

Finland gained its independence from Russia in 1917, and the Finnish National Theatre is running a project to celebrate the country’s hundredth birthday next year. The work is called Toinen Koti, which translates as ‘another home’. Jussi Lehtonen, an actor with the Finnish National Theatre, leads the work, a documentary theatre project. While in Finland over the summer I travelled to Helsinki to sit in on some of the data collection with Sari Pöyhönen of Jyväskylä University, who is managing the linguistic ethnographic strand of the project, and is carrying out the interviews with Jussi.

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Toinen Koti is about home, and also about integration. The concepts of home and integration align with many emergent themes within the TLANG Project (see, for example, our working papers series) and with the TLANG-inspired Connected Communities project (Migration and Home: Welcome…

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Migration and Settlement: extending the welcome

By Jessica Bradley 

New funding success…

We are delighted to announce that we have been awarded funding for a second project linking to our original Connected Communities ‘Migration and Home: welcome in utopia project’. This will allow us to continue our collaboration with Faceless Arts and with RETAS and to develop a co-produced performance.

The funding comes from the University of Leeds Social Science Institute (LSSI), from the Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) and we have been granted £15,000.

The project will take place over the course of 2016-17, starting in the Autumn. The School of Education announced the project here:

Other news…

Bev Adams, Sam McKay and I met to debrief the first stage today. We’ll be putting up a report about the Migration and Home: welcome in utopia project very shortly on this blog page as well as some photos from our preview which took place at the University of Leeds in June and the Utopias fair at Somerset House.

I presented a paper about the project at the University of Sheffield’s Language, Literacy and Identity conference on 1st July 2016. The details of the conference are here and the slides are downloadable from my site here. I’ll be writing the paper up over the next few weeks.

And finally congratulations…

Joe, who volunteered for the project, graduated today with a First Class degree in French. We are all delighted for him!

Welcome to Utopia! The Utopias Fair, Somerset House

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I’m writing this blog post from the cafe at Somerset House. We’re here for the Utopias Fair which is taking place in the courtyard and includes stands and stalls and many different wares and ideas related to the idea of utopia…

And it’s been a very strange time to do this.

When we first started this project, I don’t think the referendum was particularly on anyone’s mind. Now, we’re here, with our paintings, books, craft activities, our film, our performance which are all around the ‘utopian’ idea of welcome. What does it mean to be welcome? What does it mean to welcome? How do we welcome people?

But the talk at the fair is about the referendum.

Perhaps now more than ever we have to think about utopia, and how we might think about futures in a period of uncertainty..

So, how do we think about welcome during uncertain times?


A book, a composition…

This was a busy week for many, many reasons. But progress has been incredible and there are a lot of people who need to be thanked. Faceless Arts for being unflappable and able to move mountains. Sam for his production work and for masterminding the preview logistics while I’m in Spain next week. Tony Shephard for being the quickest and most patient graphic designer.

So we have a vocal score now – thanks to Maria Jardardottir – and it’s beautiful. She’s taken the workshop activities she did in April for our local festival, the theme of the AHRC Connected Communities Festival 2016 (Utopia), the theme for Migration and Home (welcome) and the TLANG project themes (translation, translanguaging and super diversity) and woven everything together into two pieces of music. These will provide the soundtrack to the performance. I’ll be putting samples up here very soon.

Here’s a snapshot of the book cover (courtesy of Tony Shephard @Shephard Creative):

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and a snap shot of the sound file…

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Next it’s the puppets and the performance. And we’re hoping we won’t be obstructed by campus building work!

Utopia and the European project

By Bev Adams, Faceless Arts

This post is written by Bev Adams to reflect on the referendum. It represents views expressed in a personal capacity.

A Brief Study of Utopia and the European project, written last week, in Brussels

I am sitting in a café just outside the European Parliament in Brussels. A circular walkway connects the various buildings of the parliament.  Its exterior presents a series of images of people from many countries working together and co-operating.  It is this spirit of co-operation (and in respect of our research project – co-production) that sparks a number of thoughts for me around Utopia, Europe and our project about welcoming refugees.

There are two major topics of conversation here in Brussels– The imminent British referendum of whether the UK wants to be “In or Out of the EU” in three weeks’ time and the refugee crisis.

Having just visited the Parlamentarium which is an interactive museum documenting the formation of the EU, what struck me was the Utopian vision of the EU founders, their desire to collaborate and co-operate by firstly co-owning  and co-managing commodities such as iron and coal in order that, post World War 2, we would cease fighting each other.

500 years ago Thomas More wrote Utopia, short book about a Utopian system of democracy, which is the starting point of our project and we are celebrating it through our Arts and Humanities Research Council funded work.  Thomas More observes that those in power are “more interested in (a) the science of war; (b) to acquire new kingdoms than to govern them properly (c) and too wise and conceited to take advice from anyone else” p8.  This is the counter-essence of the co-operative working principals of European Union, which closely fits More’s imaginary democracy of Utopia. However, critical we are of the EU’s bureaucracy, its democratic (or non-democratic as critics would say) structures, or its perceived legislative power over nation states, its intention is that 28 countries at various stages of development, speaking 24 different languages, sit in cross-national groups to peacefully debate, learn, collaborate and share power to co-organise a united Europe that fairly represents national interests whilst building stronger economies, communities and a cleaner environment for all its EU citizens.

My tour of the Parlamentarium concluded with a stunning photographic exhibition called “Displaced” about the plight of female refugees.  This is inspiring and emotive imagery for our Migration and Home project.  Thomas More observed 500 years ago that “There is never any shortage of horrible creatures who prey on human beings, snatch away their food or devour whole populations: but examples of wise social planning are not so easy to find” p6.  The EU is working together with its member states to provide necessary resources to alleviate the pressures of so many new arrivals on countries of Greece, Turkey and the Baltics.  Whilst many criticise the Shengen agreement as adding to the problem, it is the existence of Shengen which allows Europe to offer safe passage to many fleeing persecution.  The EU is co-ordinating a response, trying to “wisely plan” a social and economic solution to one of the major human catastrophes of our century and the need is great with the arrival of one million refugees and migrants last year – requiring basic provisions, health care, accommodation and education.  A fragmented Europe of independent nation states, each fighting to maintain their own sovereignty (and possibly fighting each other in the process),  would not be able to co-ordinate as an effective response.

The European Union does need to evolve, as all major organisations do from time to time.  It may need a root and branch review, a pruning here and there, but we must not forget what it has achieved – peace between European countries for nearly 60 years.

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