Researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University are working with British Bangladeshi women from Hyde Community Action in Tameside to make digital comics telling the stories of their heritage, lives and experiences.
Thanks to National Lottery players, this project has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and will see women exploring their own life stories and the historical narratives of their communities through workshops on comics, life history, cross-cultural storytelling and digital skills, as well as visits to museums and archives to engage with collections.
Using digital multimedia comic creation tools, the volunteers can write their comic books and use their own photographs and drawings to illustrate their stories. The comics can also feature sound in any language, to bring the stories to life.
Research Associate and project lead Dr Sarah McNicol says comics are important and effective forms of literature that can tell, often difficult, stories in simple ways.
Cultures and comics
Dr McNicol said: "The majority of research into British Bangladeshi communities focuses on public life outside the home. Many Bangladeshi women look after their home and family so they are invisible in this. Through representing and sharing women’s stories and heritage, we hope to put forward alternative representations that focus specifically on women’s stories and experiences.
"Through this project, we aim to challenge preconceptions and widen representations of migrant heritage. We want to raise awareness and change attitudes and behaviours - ultimately, through these comics we hope to improve understanding and cohesion."
Rehana Begum, Chief Officer from Hyde Community Action said, "Hyde Community Action is delighted to be part of this fantastic project working with Manchester Metropolitan, to be able to be the bridge that links and enables the voices of migrant women from the Bangladeshi community to be heard, to tell their stories and journeys through interactive, creative workshops. An exciting project!"
Working with communities
The project will culminate in an event for the local community to celebrate the British Bangladeshi women and their stories later this year and the comics will be showcased at local and national events including Oldham Libraries, and Rochdale Literature and Ideas Festival.
To encourage wider participation, academics from Manchester Metropolitan University and women from the Hyde community will be running sessions in two local schools, holding a workshop for teaching and social work students and producing a resource pack to encourage and support other organisations wishing to undertake similar activities.
Dr McNicol has worked on comic books for past projects, including using comics to provide information and emotional support to patients and their families.