The Artistic & Creative Expressions Section provides an open space for artistic submissions related to forced migration.
In the current volume, we are showcasing the work of Sanubar Baghirova, Aqsa Khalid, Abu Michel, Sami Mohamed, Somia, Nagat, and Mohammed Abdullah from the Hopetowns Group. In our past volume, we showcased the work of Ernest Zhanaev, Diana Takacsova, Elena Habersky, Murtaza Ali, and Stephen Dover.


The authors are all refugees based in the UK who are part of the HopeTowns Group UK, a community led organization aimed at providing guidance and mentoring support to asylum seekers and refugees in the UK.



Sanubar Baghirova is the author of the documentary film “The Ancient Arts of Mugham and Ashiq in the XXI Century” highlighted in our journal. She specializes in research and promotion of Azerbaijani traditional music, holds a PhD degree in music art, and works at the Department of history and theory of Azerbaijani traditional music of the Azerbaijan National Academy of sciences. She has published three books on Azerbaijani music and traditional musical heritage and more than 70 works. Besides, she has contributed to the UNESCO Lists of intangible cultural heritage (2003, 2009, and 2012), to BBC Radio 3 programs on Azerbaijani music (2007, 2008, 2013), initiated, organized and hosted worldwide more than 50 concerts of Azerbaijani traditional musicians. Since 2008 to date she has recorded and produced 28 CD albums on Azerbaijani music, including a number of internationally recognized ones released in the UK, France, Italy, and Australia. Sanubar Baghirova is a member and liaison officer of the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM), a “Merited Art Worker of Azerbaijan”.


Aqsa Khalid (born in Faisalabad, Pakistan) is a Psychosocial Counselor with a focus on humanitarian and emergency settings. She has a background in mental health and migration studies. Her professional and academic journey in the past few years has allowed her to work and interact with migrants in different countries including Pakistan, Turkey, Germany, and South Africa. She wants to write about overlooked but important issues. This poem revolves around the thoughts of someone who is in a constant state of boredom due to prolonged and uncertain circumstances, and bring in reflections about the will to have meaning in a presently purposeless life.

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Diana Takacsova is a Slovak/Hungarian photographer now based in Brussels, Belgium, focusing on questions of identity, physical and emotional connection to place and human relationship to nature and environment. From Europe to the Middle East and Africa, she seeks smaller stories that tell more about the whole, investigating the daily life of different groups and communities and the impacts on them. She is a Slovak Press Photo Award recipient (2016) and nominee (2018), and a participant of an artist residency documenting urban territories/personal territories in Paris, France.

Stephen Dover is a freelance photographer from Dublin Ireland. He has a Masters in Geopolitics and The Global Economy from UCD and is interested in nationalism and identity formation.

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Elena Habersky is a Research Associate at the Center for Migration and Refugee Studies at the American University in Cairo (AUC). She received her MA in Migration and Refugee Studies from AUC and has conducted ethnographic fieldwork with African refugees in the urban settings of Amman, Cairo, and Kampala.

My name is Murtaza Ali from Afghanistan. I have been learning visual art since I was very young. I love all forms of art such as musicology, performing art, and literature. Visual art is my favorite because art helps me to explore things like emotions and feelings in a positive way which I can’t express or say with words. Art has given me the power to bring out my catharsis in meaningful ways. Most of the time when I paint or draw something on a canvas it heals me – I like a joyful, soft and energetic feeling while I create any piece of art.



Ernest Zhanaev is a human rights writer and consultant based in the UK since 2014. He was instrumental in making the Kyrgyzstan parliament adopt the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and latter to pass legislation for greater financial transparency in electoral law. He also edited English news for the independent Ferghana News covering developments in Central Asia. Now a consultant for international organisations and think tanks, Ernest researches human rights issues in post-Soviet countries specialising on freedom of speech, social and political development.