Public Interventions

Migrating Provebs

Participatory Action Research
Ankara, Turkey


Catalina Pollak Williamson, Reem Charif (UEL/Febrik), Ela Aral (METU), Deniz Altay

Migrating Proverbs is an action research project that looks into social and cultural practices as tools for the engagement, cultural exchange, and development of social integration processes between Syrian refugees and local communities in Ankara and Istanbul in Turkey.




The research explores ways in which language can act as a tool for revealing the refugees experience of place, and how they negotiate their identity in a new context. This is especially relevant to refugees, where language as a social practice, enables the continuity of their journey and the sustainability of their stay: it reminds them of their past; but it is also the way in which they claim the future.


More specifically, the research makes use of PROVERBS understood as dense cultural artefacts that can be exchanged, translated, represented and put into circulation. Using proverbs both in spoken and written form, the research explores the way in which PLAY, as a methodology, can unlock new forms of participatory strategies of engagement to: i) improve the understanding of the refugee's condition of place; ii) generate spaces of exchange in order to build community capacity; and, iii) enable spaces of empathy by building 'common ground' interaction between local and refugee communities.