Immigrant Sisterhood


Italian version


Immigrant Sisterhood is an ethnographic-participatory research project where young female refugees want to show different aspects of their life. The used method called Photovoice combines photography, focus groups and social action. By means of photography, Photovoice seeks to enable marginalized groups and their individuals to record and reflect on community strengths and challenges.

The girls were included in the whole research process: They developed their own research question, made pictures about a topic of concern, told stories about their pictures and their lives and showed them to public with the hope to create awareness about their specific situation. The project is still in progress. More pictures and stories will be uploaded soon….

                     © Gemma Lynch

Female refugees belong to a marginalised group of the population whose perspectives and voices are rarely included in the public discourse. The dominant visual representations of female refugees in media depict them as helpless victims or sexualized objects. These images contribute to harmful gender stereotypes that often trivialize violence against women and disregards women’s agency, voice, and their resources as survivors, protectors and providers. With this PhotoVoice project the research team wants to focus on the strengths and challenges of female refugees and show the voice of the most marginalized.

The Artists


We are a group of black girls living in Italy on the Sardinian Island. We are waiting and hoping for our documents and freedom. For the moment we are living in a camp. With our pictures we want to show our lives, our strengths and our difficulties. We are human beings and we want to be treated like that. We want to show that together we are strong because we are more than friends. We are an Immigrant Sisterhood!

Online Exhibition


When I am walking on the street, old italian men think that all black girls are just prostitutes. They always say „Andiamo, andiamo“ or „Quanta costa“. They should stop to see all black girls like this, because not all black girls are like this. We have our own story, our own experiences. I want to say that we are all human beings and we don’t want to be seen only as sex objects.

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This is the holy virgin Mary. She is the mother of us all. I ask the Mother Mary for help to speak with her Son. She helps me to put my life on the right path. She speaks for us. Every morning in the reception center I pray. This is my happiness.


I am no longer in a center. I am in another Italian city. I am working there. At least for some time I have something to do.


Just because I am black and wear shorts it doesn‘t mean that I am a prostitute. Prostitutes come to you, you don’t have to come to the girls. If the girl is not coming to you it means she is not a prostitute.

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I am an immigrant. I am in Italy. I see a bright future. Altough I love my country, my country is very insecure. Italy have saved me. But I have a little problem. The white people they take us for fools. They take us as nobody but we are somebody. Everybody is somebody. We have to join together and save the world. White and black together. It doesn’t make a difference. We all are human beings.



My experience in this reception center is better than where I was before. But I had to leave the reception center. I could not stay there and do nothing. I have the need to do something. I want to make a contribution to society.

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Before I came to Italy they told me it is the land of milk of honey, but I can’t find the milk, I can’t find the honey. In my future I want to become an artist. I want to help people. I want to live a normal life, like the rest of the people.

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When I walk on the street I feel angry, because they often stop me and ask me stupid questions. Like “would you like to come with me?”. Just because I am walking on the street it doesn’t mean that my body is for sell. I just want to beg them to stop this nonsense.

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Living in the reception center is not easy. You are forced to live with strangers. Different behavior, different characters. I have never experienced anything like this before in my life. It was very difficult to deal with this situation.


The only thing you can do in the reception center is wait for time to pass. You just wait for your papers. It just didn’t make sense to stay there. I just wanted to keep going and have something to do.


My name is Polly. I am an immigrant and I live here in Italy. Irrespective of the fact that I am doing well, it doesn’t really mean I am perfectly ok. Sometimes I keep wondering why we are treated differently. In the sense that white people treat us as prostitutes. Is this really true? Hell, no. Despite the fact that I am refugee but truth must be told cause I stand for the truth. I know that there are many black girls who prostitute themselves to earn a living here in Italy. But we are not all the same. Some of us have a bright future. There is this saying „don’t judge a book by it’s cover“. What I am trying to say is that we should not be classified as one just because some are out there who prostitute those not really mean or are the same like there earlier say the bad ones we not let them know the good ones (sic!). Thank you!


For over a year the whole project was exposed in different places in Italy. Find here some impressions…

They talk about us

Opening Announcement: 

Bildschirmfoto 2020-06-22 um 15.36.55Bildschirmfoto 2020-06-22 um 15.38.37


Newspaper & Magazines:


la voce di bolzano

Alto Adige

Rai News

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Informationsblatt der Caritas 11/2019


„Immigrant Sisterhood“ (

Wie ergeht es Frauen auf der Flucht? Welche Erfahrungen machen sie, welche Bedürfnisse haben sie und wie möchten sie davon erzählen? Ansichten und Stimmen von Frauen mit Fluchtbiografien bleiben oft unsichtbar. Das Projekt PhotoVoice möchte das ändern und zeigt Perspektiven von geflüchteten Frauen, die verschiedene Aspekte ihres Lebens in Erstaufnahmezentren zeigen wollen…..

Das ganze Interview ist hier zu lesen


“Immigrant Sisterhood: sorellanza, una forza oltre i confini“ (

La mostra fotografica “Immigrant Sisterhood” fa parte di un progetto di ricerca etnografico-partecipativo in cui ragazze richiedenti asilo hanno voluto mostrare vari aspetti della loro vita nei centri di accoglienza. Con il metodo Photovoice, che permette di comunicare attraverso la fotografia, le ragazze hanno potuto documentare la complessità che stanno vivendo, ma anche i loro punti di forza e le sfide all’interno della comunità. La sorellanza che si è creata tra tutte queste giovani donne rappresenta un legame fortissimo che le unisce e che le sta aiutando ad affrontare ogni giornata….

Clicca qui per leggere tutta l’intervista (italiano)


„Schweigen wurde zur Schutzfunktion“ (

Sabine Tiefenthaler promoviert an der Fakultät für Erziehungswissenschaften an der Freien Universität Bozen und verfasst ihre Arbeit zum Thema Resilienz geflüchteter Frauen. Im Zuge des partizipativen Teils der Doktorarbeit, in Zusammenarbeit mit der Fotografin und Produzentin Gemma Lynch, ist das Fotoprojekt „Immigrant Sisterhood“ entstanden, das derzeit im Frauenmuseum in Meran ausgestellt wird. 

lese das gesamte Interview

Ein Gedanke zu “Immigrant Sisterhood

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