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elsa.alexandra.oliveira@gmail.com

I’m a researcher at the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS), University of the Witwatersrand, where I also co-founded and currently co-coordinate the MoVE (method.visual.explore) project. I have a PhD in Migration & Displacement, and since 2010, have used a wide range of qualitative research approaches, including arts-based approaches with diverse migrant populations in both rural and urban areas of South Africa. Much of my work has involved collaboration with social movements, civil society organizations, qualified facilitators and trainers, artists, and grassroots activists. With a commitment to supporting positive social change, my research broadly explores the intersections of migration/mobility, gender, sexuality, health, and wellbeing. My work is inter- and transdisciplinary and as such uses various practical and theoretical frameworks to explore the social, cultural, and political processes impacting migrants ‘everyday’ needs and experiences. I am interested in exploring collaborative forms of knowledge production and the ways research can be used to support social justice, including dissemination beyond academia. I seek to contribute to ongoing epistemological debates and critical discussions on the use of participatory research approaches with communities that are politically, socially, and economically marginalized. In addition to co-editing a series of open access books, I have also published widely in popular and academic spaces.

Selection of publications

Oliveira, E. and Vearey, J. (2020). The seductive nature of participatory research: Reflecting on more than a decade of work with marginalized migrants in South Africa. Migration Letters, 17(2), 219-228.

Walker, R. and Oliveira, E. (2020). A creative storytelling project with women migrants in Johannesburg, South Africa. Studies in Social Justice, 14(1), 188-209.

Marnell, J., Oliveira, E. and Khan, G. (2020). ‘It’s about being free and safe in the world’: Exploring the lived experiences of queer migrants in South Africa. Sexualities Journal, 0(0), 1-25.

Oliveira, E. (2019). The Personal is Political: A feminist reflection on a journey into participatory arts-based research with sex worker migrants in South Africa. Gender & Development, 27(3), 523-540.

Oliveira, E. (2018). Volume 44: Research with migrant sex workers in South Africa. Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity, 32(2), 3-16.

Oliveira, E. (2018). Equal airtime: Body maps and narrative stories by sex workers in South Africa. Development, 1(2), 114-119.

Oliveira, E. (2017). ‘I am more than just a sex worker but you have to also know that I sell sex and it’s okay’: Lived experiences of migrant sex workers in Johannesburg. Urban Forum, 28(1), 43-57.

Oliveira, E. and Vearey, J. (2017). Beyond the single story: creative research approaches with migrant sex workers in South AfricaFamilies, Relationships and Societies, 6(2), 317-321.

Oliveira, E. (2016). Empowering, invasive, or a little bit of both?: A reflection on the use of participatory visual and narrative research approaches with marginalised groups in South Africa. International Visual Studies Journal, 31(3), 260-278.

Dill, L., Vearey, J., Oliveira, E., and Castillo, G. (2016). “’Son of the Soil… Daughters of the Land’: poetry writing and citizen-making for lesbian, gay and bisexual migrants and asylum seeks in Johannesburg’. Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity, 30(1), 85-95.

Oliveira, E. and Vearey, J (2015). Images of Place: Visuals from Migrant Sex Workers in South Africa. Journal of Medical Anthropology, 34(4), 305-318.

Walker, R. and Oliveira, E. (2015). Contested Spaces: Exploring the Intersections of Migration, Sex Work and Trafficking in South Africa. Graduate Journal of Social Science, 11(2), 129–153.

Project Ebooks

In 2013, myself and Dr. Jo Vearey, Associate Professor and Director of the ACMS, co-founded the MoVE project. MoVE aims to: involve collaboration with migrant groups that are typically excluded, under-represented, or misrepresented in research, policy, and public debates; explore ways that knowledge can be co-produced between researcher(s) and participant(s); and share outputs created during research processes. To date, MoVE projects have involved partnership with migrants residing in informal settlements; with Somali migrants and refugees; with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ+) asylum seekers; with migrant women in inner-city Johannesburg; and with migrant women, men, and transgender persons involved in sex work and sex worker activism. These, and other MoVE projects, have culminated in a range of research and advocacy outputs, including public exhibitions, newsletters, engagement with officials, and the development of free downloadable Ebooks that archive projects and workshop processes. Below are some Ebooks of the projects that I was directly involved in.

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