Migration and social inclusion
A number of our research projects in this area focus on issues pertinent to Prato. Prato is among Italy's most multicultural and diverse cities, and it has one of the largest populations of Chinese migrants in Europe.
Youth in the City: La Nostra Prato
We collaborated with eight high schools in Prato to conduct a participatory action project with students, many of whom were of migrant background.
We wanted to develop creative processes that could foster leadership skills and an enthusiasm for social change among this group of young people of different cultures, languages and social contexts, who have the potential to play a vital role in bringing together their communities and building socio-economic resilience.
Such potential is often hindered by a combination of factors, including lack of confidence and different forms of discrimination by class, ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, and physical ability, so we sought to provide an opportunity for the youth to have a say on issues that mattered to them.
What we did
We organised five days of intensive digital storytelling workshops, where 48 students from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds worked together to re-imagine Prato from their own perspectives and through their own senses and emotions. Throughout the week they created 75 maps, 70 images, three interactive artworks and a multi-screen video installation.
The students then organised a pop-up exhibition that was attended by over 200 people, including families and friends, teachers, city councillors, the mayor and other members of the local community.
We transformed the stories, photographs, videos and testimonies produced during the workshops into an interactive digital storytelling experience that provides an original interpretation of Prato from the many perspectives of its multicultural youth.
Who helped us
The participation of students and support of teachers from eight high schools in Prato was fundamental to our project.
The research was led by Monash University, Aalborg University and Human Ecosystems Relazioni, with funding from the National Geographic Society (NGS-56467E-19) and the Scanlon Foundation, and the patronage of the Municipality of Prato.
Our centre was involved in an earlier migrant youth project with the Province of Prato. Second-generation migrant youth were invited to share their experience of living in Prato for a writing competition. Their submissions were published as anthologies entitled Seconda generazione (Volume I, 2010-2011; Volume II, 2012-2013).
Chinese in Prato
From 2007 to 2016 we held an annual symposium to feature academic work and local initiatives on the Chinese in Prato to contribute to knowledge and understanding of the migrant experience. The symposia were held in alternate years here and at Wenzhou University in China. We also organised the China in the World conference in 2011, which brought together leading academics in this field from across the world. Some of the research discussed at these events has been published as edited volumes in English, Italian and Chinese.