Our 2017 Collective

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Áine O'Brien

Áine O’Brien is Co-Founder and Co-Director of Counterpoints Arts, London and has worked across the arts, education and activism for over 25 years in the US, Ireland and the UK.  Áine set up the Centre for Transcultural Research and Media Practice in 2005, a doctoral programme aligning migration research with the creative arts; and created FOMACS (Forum on Migration and Communications) in 2007, developing creativearts and cross-sector public projects focusing on migration.

Her creative productions to date within the University sector, FOMACS and Counterpoints Arts (spanning across documentary film, print, exhibition and curation) explore global storylines linking migration with social justice and change. Including film productions: Silent Song  (2000) on Kurdish lyrical protest in Europe; Here to Stay (2006) on migrant activism; and Promise and Unrest (2010) on gendered migration and long-distance motherhood. She is co-editor of a combined book/DVD-ROM Projecting Migration: Transcultural Documentary Practice(Columbia University Press, 2007).   

Áine leads on Counterpoints Arts’ Learning Lab platform, developing national and international learning/creative production partnerships (with artists, cultural and community organisations, policymakers and academic institutions).

Áine is currently an Impact Research Fellow at the University of York.

Almir Koldzic

Almir is a Co-Founder and Co-Director of Counterpoints Arts. He has worked for over 12 years on developing creative strategies for engaging with refugee and migrant experiences, including leading on the development of a national strategy and identity for Refugee Week UK; developing the Platforma – networking project and curating and producing a wide range of events, exhibitions and commissions relating to displacement.

He has studied English literature (BA), Anthropology (MA) and Creative Writing. Almir is currently a Clore 2017 Programme Fellow and ESRC Impact Acceleration Research Fellow at York University.


Dijana Rakovic

Dijana is currently Project Manager at Counterpoints Arts, working across the production, curation and participation strands of the organization.

Before officially joining Counterpoints Arts, Dijana co-curated and co-delivered two large multi-art exhibitions – Insomnia at Southbank’s Bargehouse for Refugee Week 2004 and Counterpoint as part of the Platforma Arts Festival at Rochelle School in 2011.

Over the past five years Dijana has delivered on the Celebrating Sanctuary London Festival and London events for Refugee Week UK with a number of cultural institutions, including Southbank Centre, Rich Mix London, British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum and others. Dijana also produces Counterpoints Arts’ music collaborations between musicians with refugee and migrant backgrounds and established British musicians.

Other large productions include Dis/placed, a large and multi-disciplinary exhibition at Shoreditch Town Hall in 2015; the Adopting Britain exhibition with Southbank Centre in 2015, and currently Everyday on Canalside, an on-going community participation project on the Hackney-based Canalside Estate.

Dijana has a BA hons in Fine Art and was a deputy manager at a Hackney supported housing project for people with mental health problems.

Elena Marchevska

Elena is a practitioner, academic and researcher interested in new historical discontinuities that have emerged in post-capitalist and post-socialist transition. She is researching and writing extensively on the issues of belonging, the female body, the border and intergenerational trauma. Her artistic work explores borders and stories that emerge from living in transition. Ultimately, she is interested in creating and researching work that provides the means by which people can meet, human to human, in all their differences, in the most sensitive and sincere way possible.

Marchevska is a researcher in residence at Live Art Development Agency’s Study Room in Hackney Wick, London, exploring Live Art practices and methodologies in relation to the experiences of the displaced. This residency is part of the Collaborative Arts Partnership Programme (CAPP), a pan-European programme focusing on collaborative practices with the aim of engaging new participants and enhancing mobility and exchange for artists.

Elena is a Senior Lecturer in Drama and Performance, at London South Bank University.


Emily Churchill Zaraa

Emily is Refugee Week UK Coordinator at Counterpoints Arts and has a background in media, music and community work. Prior to joining Counterpoints Arts she coordinated My Journey, a multimedia storytelling project at Migrants Resource Centre. As volunteer artist on storytelling projects at You Press, she has worked with young ex-offenders in London and was part of an artist delegation to Srebrenica, Bosnia, in 2015. Emily has engaged in migrant and refugee solidarity work for over ten years and has lived and worked in Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank and Damascus. She has a BA in Arabic and Development Studies and an NCTJ qualification in print journalism.

Justin O'Shaughnessy

Justin is an Independent Producer.

Having studied Drama, Radio, Film and Television at Bristol University in the late 1980s, his work since has encompassed performance, theatre, dance, film, fine art, site-specific, spectacles, festivals and community-based work. Institutionalised for periods – ICA 1993-98 and Rich Mix 2005-08 – he is thankful to more often find himself out in the cold. Projects have included Newham Millennium Celebrations (1998-2000), Live Culture at Tate Modern (2003), Panorama (Notting Hill Carnival) in Hyde Park (2007), Spill Festival of Performance (2009), outdoor projects, Park Nights and Marathons for Serpentine Gallery (2005-12), and Frieze Projects (2014-17). He has also served in the design and communications field, producing print, web and live projects for NGOs, public sector and government departments at UXB London (2001-04). Justin has worked with Counterpoints Arts since 2012 including Everyday on Canalside (2014-) and dis/placed (2015).

As Creative Producer with the charity Shoreditch Trust (2008-15), he led the Creative Mentoring programme and produced the annual large-scale free Shoreditch Festival from 2008-13. Justin has also advised and sat on a number of award panels, including the Sky Arts Ignition Award (five projects of £30,000) and Hackney Learning Trust’s Mayor’s Music Awards (£25,000).

In education, Justin is Professor of Socially Engaged Practice on the Performance and Creative Enterprise BA at Guildhall School of Music & Drama and taught on City University’s Creative Cultural Industries Foundation Degree and BA (2009-17) with live project delivery at the Roundhouse, Camden and other venues.

Justin has an MA from the Centre for Urban & Community Research at Goldsmiths, was chair of governors at a large Hackney primary school for eight years and sat as a Non-Executive Director (Board Lead for Performing Arts) of The Learning Trust, Hackney’s not-for-profit local education authority from 2008-12. He currently chairs the board of Open School East and the Crux Easton Wind Engine Conservation Trust.

Lizzy IMG_3577

Lizzy Willmington

Lizzy is a PhD candidate in the School of Law at Cardiff University. Her research focuses on the increasing trend of outsoursing border and immigration controls in the UK and EU. Her work also explores how grassroots and creative resistances can challenge and shift the negative dominant narrative.

Lizzy has worked in social justice issues since graduating, including community campaigning and engagement. Drawing on this Lizzy has written on human rights and inequality within the UK and global governance structures. She is also involved in creative activism that amplifies voices and perspectives of people who have crossed borders and disrupt set understandings of Britain’s colonial past.

She completed a MA in International and Comparative Legal Studies at SOAS, a BA in Art History at University of Leeds and an Art Foundation Year at Chelsea College of Art.

Lizzy created the website for the Who Are We? project.

Marcia Chandra

Marcia is a visual storyteller with a background in ethnography and development. Much of her work focuses around migration, identity and urban change. She works freelance with community groups, NGOs and research organizations producing stories, interactive projects and workshops.


Martina Raso

Martina is currently enrolled in the MA Culture, Policy and Management at City University London. Her interests include researching, project management and delivery within the creative and cultural sector, with a specific  focus on participatory arts projects.

Since Martina graduated she has worked on the production of different events and in contemporary art galleries across Europe.

Martina completed a BA in Political Science at the University of Milan.

Tom Green

Tom Green is a Project Manager at Counterpoints Arts. He has managed the Platforma project since 2011 and produced the Platforma Festival in London (2011), Manchester (2013) and Leicester (2015).  He is currently working on the Platforma Arts Conference and Festival in Newcastle, happening at the end of October 2017.

Previously he has worked for organisations including the Refugee Council, the Writers’ Guild and Youthnet, primarily in editorial and online communications. Tom has written plays for theatre and BBC Radio 4. His latest theatre project is about boxing and migration.


Van Pham

Van is an artist and researcher from Portland, Oregon via Reno, Nevada. Currently, she’s a MA student in Cultural Policy, Relations and Diplomacy at Goldsmiths. She’s interested in how people occupy space and cooperate to make meaning in them, exploring spiritual practices and ritual through community gatherings and digital collections.

She has toured the U.S. with her band; exhibited installations along the West Coast; and worked behind the scenes in the performing arts and music as a programmer, promoter, residency coordinator, and radio station manager.

She is a National Arts Strategies Creative Community Fellow, a program through which she is developing a project called XhurchesXhurches is devoted to profiling the secular uses of religious buildings and building a reuse toolkit for communities.

The Open University

Agnes Czajka

Agnes is a Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the Open University. Prior to joining the Open University Agnes taught politics at Sabanci University in Turkey, and sociology at the American University in Cairo and the University College Cork in Ireland.

Agnes’s research interests include contemporary social and political thought, continental political philosophy, democracy, citizenship, contentious politics, migrant and refugee politics, and European and Mediterranean politics. Her recent work includes Democracy and Justice: Reading Derrida in Istanbul (2016), Europe After Derrida: Crisis and Potentiality (2014), as well a number of articles on Turkish politics for Jadaliyya.

Agnes is currently working on two projects. The first, titled, A Europe of Refugees engages with the work of Agamben, Derrida and Nietzsche to explore the critical potential of figuring Europe as a ‘Europe of refugees’. The second explores contesting conceptions and practices of democracy in Turkey.

Engin Isin

Engin Isin

Engin is Professor of International Politics at Queen Mary University of London and University of London Institute in Paris. Engin’s research and teaching focus on doing international politics: the ways in which people constitute themselves as actors or subjects of international politics through acts, movements, and struggles.

Giota Alevizou

Giota is a digital culture scholar at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the Open University. She has served as a lecturer and Research Fellow, and is currently a consultant in the Strategic Research Area Citizenship and Governance, exploring ways in which creative acts, identity and collective action intersect in urban, civic and culture commons. Giota also consults on the digital engagement and communications strategy for the Who Are We? project.

Giota’s primary domain of research is at the intersections of knowledge and learning technologies with civic engagement. In particular, she is interested in socially and politically motivated aspects of creating and using content on the Web, and in paradigms, methods and techniques to incentivise collaboration, participation and community building. She’s had the opportunity to investigate these topics in more than five national and European projects, often as a principal investigator and a lead researcher. She has recently completed several AHRC-funded projects exploring the intersections of digital storytelling, online collaboration and creative citizenship. These led to a series of co-created exhibitions and media outputs as well as to an edited collection, the Creative Citizen Unbound, published by Policy Press, in 2016. Giota has published widely in the cultural politics of technology in education, digital culture as well as digital and participatory methods.  Her monograph, The Web of Knowledge: Encyclopaedias & Encyclojournalism in the digital Age, is forthcoming by Cambridge Polity.

Prior to joining the Open University, she has held research and faculty positions in Media, and Communications Department at the London School of Economics and Political Science as well as at the Department of Media and Film at Sussex University, where is also obtained her Doctorate.

Giota Alevizou

Lisa Pilgram

Lisa is Senior Project Manager for the Strategic Research Area International Development and Inclusive Innovation at The Open University, UK. She joined the university as Senior Project Manager of the Oecumene: Citizenship after Orientalism research project in July 2010. In October 2010 she also started her PhD on British-Muslim family law as a site of citizenship. Before joining the The Open University, Lisa worked at the University of Edinburgh Law School as Research Fellow of the EUDO Citizenship project on access to citizenship in Europe. During her undergraduate studies in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (University of Vienna), she developed a strong interest in migration issues. She thus joined a post-graduate programme on Migration and Ethnic Minority Law (SOAS) where she focused her research on UK and European law on family reunification, migration and citizenship, as well as on legal issues affecting Muslim communities in Europe.

Sara De Jong

Sara is a Research Fellow in the Citizenship and Governance Strategic Research Area at the Open University. Before that, she worked at the University of Vienna on her EU-funded Marie Curie research project on the role and position of migrant, refugee and ethnic minority staff of migrant support organisations in the UK, the Netherlands and Austria. Her research interests include cultural brokerage, migration and diversity management, global citizenship, development and subalternity, drawing on post-colonial, feminist and critical race theories.

In 2010, she obtained her PhD in Politics from the University of Nottingham, where she also did an MA in Critical Theory and Politics. Her monograph Complicit Sisters: Gender and Women’s Issues across North-South Divides is forthcoming (March 2017) with Oxford University Press. Her work at archive and library Atria (Institute on Gender Equality and Women’s History) has taught her about the power of information, and she is committed to disseminating her research findings outside academia, for example through blogs and workshops.

Umut Erel

Umut Erel

Umut is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the Open University. Her research employs an intersectional approach to explore how gender, migration and ethnicity inform practices of citizenship. Her current research focuses on care and citizenship among migrant families, exploring questions of belonging and participation for the mothers and their children.

She currently leads an ESRC funded research grant on Participatory Arts and Social Action Research (PASAR): Participatory Theatre and Walking Methods’ Potential for Co-producing knowledge (January 2016 – December 2017). This explores and develops participatory walking and theatre methods for use in social science research, dissemination, engagement and teaching. The project builds on her interest in migrant families’ citizenship, exploring intergenerational relations and the marginalization of migrant families affected by the ‘No Recourse to Public Funding’ policy. A reflection on the methods is available in both podcast and blog. This research builds on a range of empirical projects on migrant mothers’ citizenship including Migrant Mothers’ Caring for the Future: Creative Interventions into Citizenship, which used participatory theatre methods.

Umut co-directs the Research Programme Migration and Belongings, Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance.

Loughborough University

Alena Pfoser

Alena is a Lecturer in Communication and Media Studies at Loughborough University. Prior to joining Loughborough, Alena worked as a Marie Curie Fellow at the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography in Leipzig, Germany. Alena’s research focuses on territorial borders, nationalism, and memory. She has particular interests in how large-scale socio-political transformations like nation- and state-building processes are experienced, interpreted and enacted in everyday life.

In 2014 she obtained a PhD in Social Sciences from Loughborough University with a thesis on the transformation of the Russian-Estonian border. Her research has been published in several journal articles and book chapters including the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Nationalities Papers and East European Politics and Societies. Alena has a strong interest in engaging with audiences through art collaborations. Drawing on her PhD research, she co-organised and curated a multi-media exhibition Welcome to European Union which was exhibited in Austria and the UK in 2013 and 2015 and won an Outstanding Artist award by the Austrian Federal Chancellery for Interdisciplinary.


Eleonora Belfiore

Eleonora Belfiore is Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Loughborough University. She has published extensively on cultural politics and policy, and particularly the place that notions of the ‘social impacts’ of the arts have had in British cultural policy discourses. With Palgrave she has published, with Oliver Bennett, The Social Impact of the Arts: An intellectual history (2008) and co-edited with Anna Upchurch a volume entitled Humanities in the Twenty-First Century: Beyond Utility and Markets (2013). More recently, her research has focused on researching the politics of cultural value, and she was Director of Studies of the Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value (2013-5) and co-author of its final report, Enriching Britain: Culture, creativity and growth, published in February 2015.

Eleonora is researching the cultural value of everyday forms of cultural participation in her role as co-investigator on the AHRC funded Connected Communities project ‘Understanding Everyday Participation – Articulating Cultural Values’, and as the research partner on the Fun Palaces Ambassador Programme, a 3-year project funded by Wellcome and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Eleonora’s interest in the Tate Exchange lies in her longstanding commitment to exploring the social and cultural value of the arts and of public cultural institutions, and to working collaboratively with artists and professionals in the creative sectors.

University of Warwick

Katie Klaassen

Katie is an Impact Officer at the University of Warwick supporting individual members of academic staff and researchers across the Faculty of Arts in accelerating the outcomes of their research, and specifically improving the wider impact of their research. This includes the integration of routes to achieve impact in the conception and design of research projects, supporting engagement strategies which lead to impact from beginning to end of a research project, supporting the evaluation of change arising out of impact and developing impact case studies.  Katie has worked for the Faculty of Arts at Warwick for 12 years, supporting research grants and impact.  Previously Katie worked for the British Film Institute and Screen West Midlands.  She is also a trustee of Midlands based charity Ego Performance Company and has links to many arts organisations across the sector.

Katie Klaassen
Hannah Jones

Hannah Jones

Hannah is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick. Hannah has conducted research on multiculture and multiculturalism, local government policy-making, community cohesion policy, migration policy, voluntary and community sector organising, regeneration and urban studies, and diversity and inequality. She was Principal Investigator on the Economic and Social Research Council funded project “Go Home”: Mapping the unfolding controversy of Home Office Immigration Campaigns, working with colleagues at six other universities across the UK. A book based on this research will be published in April 2017 by Manchester University Press.

Hannah’s first book, Negotiating Cohesion, Inequality and Change: Uncomfortable Positions in Local Government (Policy Press, 2013) won the 2014 British Sociological Association Philip Abrams Memorial Prize for best first book in UK sociology. With colleagues Khursheed Wadia and Vicki Squire, Hannah is co-organiser of the Warwick Borders, Race, Ethnicity and Migration Network. Prior to her academic career, Hannah worked in London local government and continues to be active in making links between university-based social research and the wider world.

Maureen Freely

Maureen is Head of the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick.  She is also President of English PEN and is active in various national and international campaigns to champion free expression. Maureen is the author of seven novels (Mother’s HelperThe Life of the PartyThe Stork ClubUnder the VulcaniaThe Other RebeccaEnlightenment, and – most recently – Sailing through Byzantium) as well as three works of non-fiction (Pandora’s ClockWhat About Us? An Open Letter to the Mothers Feminism Forgot, and The Parent Trap).

The translator of five books by the Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk (SnowThe Black BookIstanbul: Memories of a CityOther Colours and The Museum of Innocence), she has also translated or co-translated a number of memoirs, biographies, rising stars and 20th century classics. Her translation with Alexander Dawe of The Time Regulation Institute by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar, was awarded the Modern Languages Association Lois Roth Award for a Translation of a Literary Work.

She has been a regular contributor to the Guardian, the Observer, the Independent and the Sunday Times for three decades, writing on feminism, family and social policy, Turkish culture and politics, and contemporary writing.

Vicki Squire

Vicki Squire

Vicki is Reader in International Security at the Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick. She is author of The Exclusionary Politics of Asylum (Palgrave, 2009) and Post/Humanitarian Border Politics Between Mexico and the US: People, Places, Things (Palgrave, 2015), and Editor of The Contested Politics of Mobility (Routledge, 2011). She is also Co-Editor of the journal International Political Sociology. Vicki is currently Leverhulme Research Fellow on the project Human Dignity and Biophysical Violence: Migrant Deaths across the Mediterranean Sea, which examines how border deaths are tolerated within a European framework of human dignity, yet also contested through various political interventions that have emerged in response to such deaths. She is also Principal Investigator on the ESRC project Crossing the Mediterranean Sea by Boat: Mapping and Documenting Migratory Journeys and Experiences, which is an international collaborative project documenting the journeys, experiences, expectations and claims of people on the move in precarious situations across the eastern and central Mediterranean routes. Vicki is a frequent contributor to The Conversation and openDemocracy, and tweets @vidkowiaksquire


Evelyn Ruppert

Evelyn is Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. She studies how digital technologies such as smart phones, social media platforms, as well as myriad government databases generate enormous volumes of data about the movements, preferences, associations, and activities of people. While providing new sources of knowledge about individuals and populations, she investigates how digital technologies and the data they generate can also powerfully shape and have consequences for who we are and how we are known and governed. As such, digital technologies are also changing how we understand ourselves as political subjects, that is, citizens with rights to speech, access, and privacy. How citizens make claims to digital rights through what they say and what they do through digital technologies are key questions that she addresses.

Evelyn is Principal Investigator of a five-year European Research Council funded project, Peopling Europe: How data make a people (ARITHMUS; 2014-19). She is also Founding and Editor-in-chief of a SAGE open access journal, Big Data & Society: Critical Interdisciplinary Inquiries, launched in June 2014. Recent books are Being Digital Citizens (authored with Engin Isin) published in April 2015 (RLI International) and Modes of Knowing (edited with John Law) published in August 2016 (Mattering Press).

Jennifer Gabrys

Jennifer Gabrys

Jennifer is Reader in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is Principal Investigator on Citizen Sense, a project funded by the European Research Council that engages with inventive approaches to participation and monitoring in order to test and query environmental sensing technology. Gabrys’s books include a techno-geographical investigation of environmental sensing, Program Earth: Environmental Sensing Technology and the Making of a Computational Planet (University of Minnesota Press, 2016); and a material-political analysis of electronic waste, Digital Rubbish: A Natural History of Electronics (University of Michigan Press, 2011). She has co-edited an interdisciplinary collection on plastics, Accumulation: The Material Politics of Plastic (Routledge, 2013).

Universal Design Studio

Universal Design Studio

Universal Design Studio is an award winning Architecture and Interior practice based in London. It works internationally on commissions including hotels and restaurants, retail spaces, galleries and renowned cultural institutions. Universal uses a bespoke approach for each client, rich in intellectual rigour and creativity, to create inspiring places with a powerful visual impact.

Notable projects from Universal Design Studio include the design of Ace Hotel London, and a commission from the Science Museum to design the architectural framework of the Information Age Gallery. Their most recent projects include the design of Singapore-based Odette restaurant by Julien Royer in the newly revitalised Singapore National Art Gallery and a flagship store for luxury leather goods brand J&M Davidson on Mount Street, London. Projects soon to be completed include a new luxury hotel in Stockholm and two floors in the new Printemps flagship store in Paris.

Universal was founded in 2001 by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, in response to the growing demand for their distinctive design aesthetic and clever use of material details in an architectural and interior design context. The studio is co-directed by Hannah Carter Owers and Jason Holley.

See their work on Instagram.

Universal Design Studio