The UCL Centre for Gender, Health and Social Justice

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The SELMA project launches two virtual exhibitions on gender, migration and health

December 20, 2021

We’re thrilled to announce the launch of the virtual exhibition for the SELMA project, a cross-institutional, cross-cultural, interdisciplinary collaborative migration health project between University College London, UK, Aga Khan University, Pakistan, the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Bern, Switzerland.

As part of the public engagement for the project, we have produced two virtual exhibitions. Here, we invite you to explore the dynamic, complex and layered reality of migration and health guided by the voices and stories of migrants and refugees in Pakistan and the UK.

Explore the virtual exhibitions here: https://www.selmaprojects.com/  

About the project

Over 272 million people currently live in a country other than that of their birth. Some move in search of better opportunities, for others extreme poverty, insecurity, natural disasters or war have driven them from their homes.

Our world is shaped by mobility, our societies contoured by it, and yet migration as a determinant of health remains troublingly understudied.

The SELMA project set out to understand what policies were in place to protect migrant/refugee health. Through the lens of two disparate migration health contexts; migrant, refugee and asylum systems in the UK, and male labour migration from Pakistan into the Gulf Cooperation Council, SELMA provides a rich and textured image of the structural drivers of health and the extent to which gender and gender norms shape the health and wellbeing of migrant and refugee communities.

The works presented in the following virtual exhibitions are the result of two lively public engagement projects run in Pakistan and the UK respectively. Through these exhibitions, we encourage you to see beyond the construction of migrants and refugees as reducible to their migratory status and to encounter the diverse and dynamic realities of migration.


Borderings: Displacement, Gender and Health


Continuously created and recreated, policed and enforced, borders demarcate boundaries of belonging. But borders are not only lines on the map, they are also drawn between people in the form of identity constructs; refugee-migrant-citizen, male-female-non-binary, healthy-ill. These borderings are never neutral nor contained but are rather diffracted through each other and laden with associations and meanings.

Borderings: Displacement, Gender and Health presents eight original artworks produced by migrant/refugee artists that explore the diverse ways we are bordered by nations, by bodies, by cultures, by identity constructs, by systems and structures in ways that are at times smooth and protective and other violent and exclusionary.


Dubai Chalo

Image preview

Dubai Chalo (let's go to Dubai), a term popularised in the 1970s, represents the dream of upward social mobility through well-paying jobs and opportunities for a brighter future. The term found itself seeping into pop culture, films, tv shows and songs following the trend of labour workers migrating to the gulf countries.

With Project Selma, our goal was to use art-based methodologies to understand and document migrants' health experiences for policy determinants. The artistic outputs of this exploration are presented here as an aesthetic narrative that interweaves the stories of disappointment and despair with those of resilience and hope, all within a holistic concept of health and wellbeing.