‘Together We Prepare a Feast, Each Person Stirring Up Memory’
jats:pOur story starts in April 2020, in the early stages of the UK’s first national COVID-19 lockdown. A multidisciplinary team of researchers and artists began a collaboration with Migrateful, a charity that runs cookery classes led by refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants struggling to integrate and access employment. Teaching classes and sharing their cuisine and stories helps the chefs develop their confidence and sense of belonging, and food is central to the enterprise. The focus of the project was a series of interactive online cookery classes delivered by Migrateful chefs, with ongoing involvement from the researchers and artists. In this paper, we weave together the research team’s reflections on the project with commentary from the participants and artists. We outline our methods and our learning from the collaboration and explain how it inspired new ways of thinking about refugee representation, food and belonging, co-creative storytelling, and virtual engagement. We discuss the ways in which Migrateful’s model helps to support the production of counter-narratives that value, foreground, and amplify migrants’ perspectives and voices while acknowledging the tensions involved in adapting this model to the virtual space. We emphasise the power dynamics inherent in engaging and researching with marginalised people and their stories while considering whether artistic involvement and creation may help to navigate some of these challenges, and we address how the virtual environment affected the potential for collaborative storytelling, interaction, and engagement levels among participants. Together, these reflections form a ‘recipe’ for what we hope to be a more meaningful and ethical model of engagement activity that builds on this learning.</jats:p>
Peer reviewed: True
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Amza Reading, Tolu Agbelusi, Xavier de Sousa, Sivan Rubinstein, Anna Virabyan, and all our collaborators at Migrateful.
Funder: King’s College London and Arup