Federico Varrasso, visiting professor at IHECS, awarded by EASA

On 11 September, the European Association of Social Anthropologists awarded a prize to Federico Varrasso for a Belgian Red Cross media and social project carried out with a group of female refugees.

"Vivre en veille" ("Living on standby") – A project for the empowerment and recognition of female asylum seekers

The status of "asylum seeker" has multidimensional implications, the aspects of which are not always familiar to non-migrants. The ordeal is not over once Europe has been reached and an application for asylum has been made. This can prove a very challenging stage, especially for women. As part of a broader capacity building strategy for the Asylum Seekers Department of the Belgian Red Cross, Visual Exchange has worked with a group of 12 women from different countries and speaking a variety of languages who are housed in a centre that accommodates victims of gender-based violence (GBV) or those who have experienced complex migratory journeys as they wait in the hope that their status will be be recognised. With our activity and expertise in Participatory Video and Art Therapy, we have conducted research while providing them with care. Through specific and collective creative activities they have explored their history, their feelings and their own resources to ultimately face up to their past and present experience of trauma. This four-stage process finally crystallises into a form of collective and cross-cultural expression which can be demonstrated outside the group and which can create fresh channels of dialogue with the host community: the result is a film made by themselves in their own way and using their own voices, voices that convey their shared struggles, feelings, hopes and needs.

Federico Varrasso

Federico Varrasso has more than 15 years of experience in communication for development, the humanities and the media. He is a researcher, instructor and filmmaker trained in visual arts (MA) and social sciences (MA-Ph.D.) whose fieldwork and thesis focused on participatory processes. He is a visiting professor on the Master 2 ASCEP programme.