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  • Writer's pictureKiran Kaur

Displaced Voices Special Issue: Making Visible Lives of Refugee Women In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Updated: Feb 12, 2021

This special issue is a collection of papers written by and with refugee women based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with a foreword from Associate Professor Nergis Canefa at the Center for Refugee Studies in York University, Canada. Our final contribution is visual rather than written and aims to highlight the spaces, actions and voices of refugee communities without emphasizing a victimhood narrative or imagery. All contributors to this project were participants in my doctoral participatory action research (PAR) project in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In this issue we explore what inclusive publishing might look like and rather than speak for refugee communities, we can instead speak together.

Check out the special issue of Displaced Voices Volume 1 Issue 2:

Image Copyright Amin Kamrani

Photo No 1: In the absence of sun

Taken in: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia



must be the poems

of the deprived,

and night is the paper.

Mwaffaq Al-Hajjar

Extract from Editorial:

Inclusive Publishing:

Academic Skills and Co-Writing

An important lesson we have had to learn is that you cannot give anyone a voice. We have made and allow space for those on the margins to speak and actively listen as they share their experience. We tried to remember sharing experiences allows the possibility for collective action, but we cannot expect to place the burden for change on the most marginalised alone. Instead, we need to be proactive to find ways to listen. We used this as a baseline philosophy in trying to find a new way forward.


As editors, we never choose the main message or conceptual frameworks. I spent time to speak with women on their aims and message, ensuring that we made the words in the papers as close as possible to their ideas and voice. When clarifying issues related to grammar and vocabulary, we would explain and allow opportunities for the participants to respond. At times, we would spend hours on a video call to discuss how the message was being communicated and how they could become clearer about what they hope to achieve. During the peer review stage, the writers were able to read each other’s works and use the same editing tips and advice.


Rather than rely on formal academic writing and editing processes in this special issue, we felt better to trust the creative, learning and collaborative journeys we all found ourselves on. Simply our editing process involved some ‘teaching’ but mostly asking questions and listening deeply. We chose to forego traditional citation and referencing (not because we do not believe the importance of this) but to allow the writers to have more control of their own writing style and voice.

Keeping the theme of the original photovoice issue we intended, instead reached out to the writers to some images that were meaningful to them. The images in the articles were chosen with the women and depict something that connected with them from either their own experience or my research project. Unfortunately, we were unable to achieve our full objective of a photovoice issue, which would have involved the refugee contributors staging, framing and creating the images with us.

We are the first to admit our process is not without its challenges. We hope, however, that in the following papers you can see the individual narrative style and voice of the refugee women who have shared their stories.

Check out the full issue here.


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