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Hi! I’m a researcher at the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS), University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, South Africa, where I also co-founded and currently coordinate the MoVE (method.visual.explore) project, an experimental research space at the ACMS that is investigating different ways of conceptualizing, undertaking and disseminating research that explores the lived experiences and needs of marginalized migrant populations in both rural and urban areas of South Africa through collaboration with migrant participants, qualified facilitators and trainers, artists, civil society organizations, social movements and graduate students engaging in participatory research.

I have a doctorate in Migration & Displacement, and since 2010, have used a wide variety of research approaches, including community-based participatory research, visual and narrative methodologies, 1:1 interviews, surveys, observation, focus groups, and arts-based research strategies, such as storytelling, body-mapping, textile work, diaries, photovoice.

With a commitment to the development of pro-poor policies and practices, 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 negatively impacting migrants lives.

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.

Selection of journal publications

Marnell, J., Oliveira, E. and Khan, G. (2021). ‘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. 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.

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.


I have written a series of op-eds on issues associated with migration and mobility in southern Africa.

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 marginalized migrant groups, explore ways that knowledge can be co-produced between the 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; Somali migrants and refugees; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender asylum seekers and refugees; migrant women in inner-city Johannesburg; and 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 MoVE and other ACMS projects/collaborations that I have been involved in.

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