De Zwijger spreekt met … Alison Killing

About boundless interactive storytelling

Last Wednesday (9th of May), the very first edition of a new series – Urban Stories – took place at Pakhuis de Zwijger. Alison Killing was one of the speakers. She is the initiator of the interactive storytelling project Migration Trail.  We spoke with her in an interview about the project.

What inspired you to come up with Migration Trail?
“I started this project in 2014. At that point, a lot of people started to travel through the Mediterranean Sea. There were some horrendous shipwrecks, a lot of people lost their lives. The story wasn’t getting enough media coverage and even when it was covered in the media, those stories were getting the lowest readership on the front pages of the news sites. It seemed obvious there was a need for a different way to tell this story. That’s how the concept for Migration Trail came up.”

Why did you use different forms of narrative?
“The different types of media that we used were all chosen because they allowed us to do a different thing and tell a different aspect of the story. For instance, we used social media to tell the stories of the migrants to make it feel very intimate. Then we had the big maps and all of the data to put all the stories in a bigger context. We combined this data to get an idea of where people chose to take asylum, European refugee quotas. This way we could frame the stories both in a social and political context. The podcasts allowed us to discuss complex issues, convey emotion and it was also good for recollection. We were able to get into a very in-depth discussion about border policy, asylum and immigration.”

How are you changing the world with Migration Trails and how did it change your world?
“One of the biggest frustrations for me is that people think this is a story that happened in 2015 and now, essentially, it is over. When in fact it’s not. The stories that are told are either focussed on individual migrant stories or a particular places over a certain period of time. Both of those stories are really important and valuable in showing what happened. Yet, these stories are missing a crucial thing: the discussion of border and immigration policy which actually shapes those journeys. In those stories, politics are often stripped out. That’s very frustrating because politics are forcing people to make those journeys in the first place. The idea that refugees necessarily travel in these dangerous ways has become massively normalized and that is something that isn’t questioned nearly enough. That is something that we really wanted to address.”

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