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Researchers of NTU: Allan Njanji

Meet the people behind our research, discover their areas of expertise and find out about life in NTU's research community

Allan filming
Allan filming

What’s your name and research area?

My name is Allan Njanji, a Postgraduate Researcher in the School of Arts and Humanities. My thesis is entitled ‘Redocumenting Refugee Perspectives: Developing Visual Alternatives to the UK Mainstream Media’s Representation of Refugees and Asylum-Seekers through Creative Documentary Practices’.

How did you get into your area of research?

I got into my area of research well before I even knew I would consider doing a PhD degree.  About ten years ago I embarked on a career in TV and Film Production when I enrolled at Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies. I was going through the refugee process during that time.  The challenges that I faced, as did most of the people within my community in Nottingham, only served to cement how refugee integration was (and still is) a matter of concern.  I felt a need to raise awareness of this issue, and to help in training and campaigning, working towards eradicating the prejudices around it.

After my undergraduate course I did a Masters degree in Documentary Journalism.  On this course my main project focused on an investigation of the challenges of integration for refugees and asylum seekers in the UK, and how a best practice system could be formulated.  It was during this period that I realised I needed further research to deepen my understanding of the issues, in order to make a real positive contribution to the successful integration of refugees settling in the UK. I made the decision then to do a practice-led PhD degree, utilising the documentary filmmaking skills that I had acquired over the years.

How have you been supported as a member of the research community at NTU?

There has been so much support from the research community, ranging from organising researcher development workshops and seminar series - including ones from external academics - to multidisciplinary presentations. There is additional nurturing from the supervisors and postgraduate tutors, and with fellow doctoral students, we learn from each other through peer reviews.

Allan's Images of Research competition entry, 'From Foreign Lands'
Allan's Images of Research competition entry, 'From Foreign Lands'

How do you think your research could be beneficial to society?

Refugees face traumas as victims of wars and conflict that they are fleeing from, yet even here in UK, they are also regarded as threats within their host communities where they find themselves.  As such, revealing and developing alternatives to the negative stereotyping of refugees in media discourse has the potential to improve refugees’ real-world experiences, and to bring about significant improvements in community cohesion and wellbeing.  My documentary work therefore seeks to develop narratives that actively contest negative stereotypes, and enable refugee individuals to guide their self-representation in newly creative, positive and humanising ways.

My research additionally seeks to divert from the normal focus of refugees’ legal status in this country.  I would want them to focus on hope, dreams, optimism, confidence and cheerfulness. These emotions are hardly ever broadcast about this group of people, and as a result they cease to be seen as equals in our communities. They are hardly celebrated, so this would be an opportunity for them to celebrate themselves.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

My highlight at NTU was seeing one of my documentary films being screened at Broadway Cinema in Nottingham. We had industry practitioners in the audience, which included one of my mentors. She later mentioned that I had surpassed her expectations and she was prepared to collaborate with me on her next project.

What are your ambitions for the future?

Events or circumstances surrounding people’s displacement from one country to another keep happening and are unstoppable, so I intend to contribute to thinktanks on issues pertaining to international migration and resettlement.  I am driven to guide the development of best-practice systems for integration in any country. I will also continue doing documentary filmmaking focusing on social justice issues.

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Published on 18 January 2020
  • Subject area: Media, journalism and communication
  • Category: Research; School of Arts and Humanities