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From border to border: volunteering, photo-voicing, listening, and here we go again!

Speaker: Abril Rios (Oxford)
Chair: Claire Griffiths (Chester)
Respondent: Ainhoa Montoya (CSIC & CLACS, ILCS)

The seminar reflects on the speaker’s research over 10 months in two Mexican border cities and in the capital, exploring decision-making and empowerment among Latin American and Caribbean refugees and other survival migrants who mostly identify themselves as cis and trans women. In this seminar, the speaker shares aspects of situated exploration by focusing mainly on how each city context was logistically navigated as a ‘female Mexican outsider’, how power relations with organisations were approached and managed, and on collaboration with refugees and migrants, including ethical aspects of participatory photography and remote contact over social media.

Abril Rios (she/her/ella) is a DPhil student in Migration Studies at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, University of Oxford. She is interested in the intersections of migration, gendered relations, power, and agency. Her doctoral research focuses on processes of empowerment and decision-making among women and gender nonconforming people in the context of international migration in Mexico ( As a consultant, Abril also supports the World Bank and UNHCR research program on displacement, poverty, and development in Kenya.

The focus of the Behind-the-Scenes seminar series is an exploration of the processes we engage with on the journey towards producing the published research output, covering all the stages involved in fieldwork in geographical, virtual or un-sited fields. From the aspirations and expectations that precede fieldwork, through the messy and unpredictable circumstances of conducting the research, the scope of the series is wide and includes research design; funding; logistical preparations for engaging in fieldwork, dealing with unexpected challenges; the emotional impacts of the work, the multiple rewards of fieldwork collaborations, methods for analysing, cataloguing, and storing information during fieldwork, along with information retrieval from fieldwork. And in the aftermath of fieldwork, the series covers how we engage with the tortuous process of selecting what goes into the final polished output, which invariably includes excising valuable insights accumulated during fieldwork in the process. Behind-the-Scenes is a space where we can look at all those facets of fieldwork, including those which often remain unexplored and unspoken.

Seminar Sessions:
Wed 15 Nov 2023:
From border to border: volunteering, photo-voicing, listening, and here we go again!
Wed 6 Dec 2023:
Anxieties and Excitements of Archival Work: Some Considerations
Wed 31 Jan 2024:
Collaboration is a two-way road, or regarding ethnographic work with antagonistic institutions
Wed 7 Feb 2024:
Fieldwork with Indigenous Amazigh Communities
Fri 23 Feb 2024 (practical - hands on session):
Practical approaches to using participatory photography in research
Wed 13 March 2024:
Researching Undocumented Women in Transit. Challenges and Strategies of Fieldwork on the Mexican Border
Wed 24 April 2024:
The sound of amateur cinema: collections, oral history, experimentation workshops

All are welcome to attend this free seminar series. You will need to register in advance for each session to receive the online joining link. Please click on the Book Now button at the top of the page to register for this first seminar taking place on Wed 15 Nov 2023.