An arts-based, peer-mediated Story Board Narrative Method in research on identity, belonging and future aspirations of forced migrant youth

  • Jessica Ball


An innovative, arts-based, peer-mediated Story Board Narrative method of data collection in an ongoing, multi-sited Youth Migration Project is described. The research explores negotiated identity, belonging and future aspirations of forced migrants aged 11 to 17 years old living temporarily in Thailand and Malaysia. The unique data collection method centres meaning making by youth about their forced migration and adaptation in often hostile and precarious conditions. Primary data are youths’ narrative accounts of an arts-based Story Board that each youth creates over a four week period and then presents to a small group of migrant peers. Follow-up sessions invite youth to revise their Story-Board and their narrative, with inquiry led by peers rather than research facilitators. The method positions youth as experts and in control of their own stories. Story Board Narratives are audio-taped, transcribed, and content analyzed by a team of investigators who also have migration experiences. Unlike other visual methods that prescribe drawings and focus on the visual production, this method allows youth to direct their own visual representations and the narrative associated with them. The method enables a developmental process whereby youths’ introspection, discussions, and representations of the impacts of forced migration evolve over time. This emergent, participatory, arts-based method as the centerpiece in a mixed method research design yields richly nuanced and often unexpected findings that may not have been generated through methods that are more prescriptive, structured, investigator-centered, and deductive.


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Author Biography

Jessica Ball

Jessica Ball, MPH, PhD, is a professor of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria, Canada. She has worked as a researcher and consultant for international organizations, governments, and community organizations in Asia, North America and Africa to develop and reform policies affecting the well-being of children, youth and families, and to strengthen local capacity to implement policies. She currently leads a multi-sited investigation of the experiences of forced migrant youth in Southeast Asia. She has published over 140 peer reviewed journal articles, chapters, and three books. Her achievements have been recognized by numerous national and international awards.