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Inside/Out: using storytelling to understand the politics of exclusion in Europe and South Africa

Inside/Out: using storytelling to understand the politics of exclusion in Europe and South Africa


Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, European Commission



PI and Project Team Members

Joanna Wheeler

Project Partners and Countries

Adonis Musati Project, South Africa and Migrant Voice, UK

Project Overview

Contemporary political narratives in the UK and South Africa are explicitly orientated around ideas about who does, and does not, belong. The UK and South Africa, while different, share trends towards inequality and the othering of migrants as responsible for social problems. Both inside and outside groups express a powerful sense of alienation and hopelessness. This project uses storytelling to generate new bottom-up narratives to challenge dominant top down discursive politics of exclusion. Using creative methods, people from different communities that are typically positioned as against one another are creating personal stories. The stories are being used to catalyse public dialogues on the possibilities for new, more inclusive political narratives to build understanding and trust between groups.

Project Impact Statement

Societal Impact: There is impact anticipated in terms of the groups involved directly in the storytelling process. For the participants, the process of storytelling is documented to be important in increasing a sense of hope and confidence. These storytelling processes can shift entrenched and dehumanizing views of the ‘other’, by breaking down people’s assumptions about categories of identity. This will contribute towards anticipated societal impact in terms of the dialogue and exchange between different groups. The dialogues are intended to contribute to addressing actual and perceived conflict between groups by creating new forms of understanding. The research process, including the dialogues, will generate new ideas about how to create shared political narratives. This goes beyond ‘myth-busting’, towards emotive arguments that can establish shared values. Collaboration with CTPSR will increase the societal impact by feeding into the work of Migrant Voice in the UK, the Adonis Musati project in South Africa.

Policy Impact: The policy impact from this project builds on past engagement work by Wheeler, as well as leveraging new policy and advocacy relationships through the collaboration with CPTSR, Adonis Musati Project and Migrant Voice. In the UK, it is encouraging new political spaces to bring these new and different narratives to bear on the political process.

Academic Impact: This project contributes directly to framing the academic debate on storytelling as it relates to building inclusive political narratives. It is expanded research networks between scholars, activists, and policy makers for CTPSR. It is making a significant methodological contribution by pioneering an innovative, comparative story-based based approach. It is increasing the awareness of and legitimacy of storytelling as a methodology for interdisciplinary research.

Find out more about Inside/Out

 Queen’s Award for Enterprise Logo
University of the year shortlisted
QS Five Star Rating 2023