Founder and Director: Dr Benjamin Dix, Senior Fellow at SOAS University of LondonDr Benjamin Dix has worked as a Communications Manager for the United Nations and various international NGOs across Asia and Africa for over 12 years. After working as a photojournalist across India for 7 years, Ben was based in LTTE controlled Vanni, North Sri Lanka with the UN from 2004 – 2008 throughout the recent conflict. He has a BA in Political Geography of South Asia (SOAS, University of London, 2002) an MA in Anthropology of Conflict and Violence (University of Sussex, 2011) and a Doctorate in Anthropology: Graphic Violence: Representing Conflict and Migration through Narratives and Illustrations (University of Sussex, 2016). Ben is a PRINCE2 Practitioner and has also recently been awarded a Senior Fellowship from SOAS. He is also SOAS’s Alumni Ambassador. In 2012, Ben founded PositiveNegatives to produce comics that explore complex subjects including conflict, migration and asylum. The work endeavours to combine literature, journalism and education. Visual storytelling engages audiences of all ages, backgrounds and levels of literacy. Approaching subjects like conflict and forced migration through the prism of personal narratives emotionally engages general readers and students alike. Ben founded Why Comics? in 2016 to increase the impact of the portfolio, and as the ethnographic comics had always been so successful in schools across the world. Teachers and students across wide demographics said that they found learning through the visual communications tools very effective, and made them want to learn more.
Chief Research Officer: Rachel Shapcott, MScRachel recently graduated with both a BA in Fine Art from Coventry University and an MSc in Psychology from the University of Westminster. Rachel’s combination of creativity and logic has allowed her to work closely with artists and take pivotal roles in the production of exhibitions and art fairs. Since the completion of her Psychology MSc, Rachel has been working as a Mental Health Social Therapist in Tower Hamlets. She became passionate about Human Rights issues after volunteering at the Helen Bamber Foundation, an organisation committed to protecting asylum seekers. Her role included researching the mental health needs in survivors of modern slavery and working closely with clients from countries all over the world. Rachel joined the team in October 2016 and does in-depth research for PositiveNegatives and helps oversee educational resources for Why Comics?, as well as providing a variety of other support across the board for the senior management.
Education Project Officer: Elettra Pellanda, MAElettra arrived in London in 2014 after completing her BA in Philosophy in Milan, Italy, where she also worked with Greenpeace and gave private tuition in a variety of subjects to high school students. Her interest in cultural studies, education and environmental issues drove her to volunteer for different non-profit associations around Europe and South America. After attending a presentation by Kumi Naidoo at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Elettra ended up taking a part-time MA in History of Art and Archaeology at the same university. At the same time, she enjoyed curating a personal blog on art and aesthetics. Elettra is currently volunteering part-time giving ESOL classes in Tower Hamlets and plans a career in Education Development through which to fulfil her ideal of art and culture as powerful means for education. Elettra joined the team in February 2017, and does research, communications support and produces educational resources for Why Comics?, as well as providing a variety of support to the team, including fundraising.
Research and Communications Officer: Sara Wong, MScSara is from Minneapolis, MN, USA where she graduated with a BA in Political Science from the University of Minnesota. Her work experience includes state-level U.S. party politics, non-profit research and arts-based volunteer work. She has studied internationally at the University of Cape Town, the University of Amsterdam and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS, University of London) where she recently finished her MSc in Development Studies. Her thesis explored the role of the arts and culture sector in times of social transformation. Sara joined the PositiveNegatives team in September 2016 and conducts research, produces resources for Why Comics?, as well as gives a variety of other support including fundraising, artist relations, communications support and exhibition management.
Research and Communications Officer: Poppy Ogier, MAPoppy has a BA with First Class Honours in Politics with International Relations from the University of York. Her work experience includes being an assistant primary school teacher, student leader for charitable organisations and volunteer work in refugee settlements. Poppy recently finished her MA in Post-war Recovery Studies at the University of York where she wrote her dissertation on the influence of digital humanitarians on the response to the refugee/migrant crisis in Greece. She joined the team in July 2017.
Research and Communications Officer: Grace BenatiGrace has a BA in Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese at King’s College London. Grace is from London, but her interest in Latin America began after a year of volunteering in Argentina and Brazil. After her BA, she lived in Milan for a year and taught English to groups of international students at the University of Pavia, Italy. She is currently studying a Master's degree in Development and International Studies (Latin American Studies Specialisation) at Aalborg University, Denmark. During this time she took part in two projects: The Colombian Peace Process and Women’s Rights in Mexico. Grace joined the team in September 2017.
Communications Officer: Caroline BolsterCaroline hails originally from Atlanta, GA, USA and has previous experience working in social media for MMJ Labs. She graduated cum laude from Carleton College in 2015 with a BA degree in History, specialising in Middle Eastern Studies and Medieval and Renaissance Studies. After studying Arabic at Carleton and abroad in Lebanon (American University of Beirut, 2013), Caroline received a Larson International Fellowship to research rap music and hip hop in Tunisia for her undergraduate thesis. Caroline is currently studying a double MA program in Arabic and Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. She joined the team in February 2016. Caroline manages our PositiveNegatives social media channels and is also overseeing our new podcast series, converting our ethnographic comics into audio programmes to reach wide new international audiences.
Researcher: Ayesha Mago, MScAyesha Mago has worked on a wide range of rights and development issues but in the last 10 years has focused specifically on gender, strengthening the SRHR of women and girls affected by HIV, trafficking of children, access to justice and the rights of marginalised groups. Her work has included comprehensive research, analysis and writing on laws and legal frameworks that either protect or reinforce discrimination against marginalised communities, including adolescents and key populations in the context of HIV. She has had considerable exposure to the non-governmental sector as well as experience dealing with international intergovernmental bodies, such as the United Nations Human Rights Council and the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation in Law (SAARCLAW). In addition to her research work, she is a trainer and has conducted trainings within the non-profit, education and corporate sectors on gender, sexuality, discrimination and sexual harassment at the workplace. She has worked on international meetings and missions as a facilitator. She is a certified mediator accredited by the Bar Council of England and the Law Society.
Podcast Producer: Miia Laine, MA
Miia is the current station manager of SOAS Radio London and has been working on adapting PositiveNegatives comics into audio. She moved to London for an MA in Music in Development in 2014 after completing a BA in Politics at the Free University of Berlin and having worked in music, film and TV. For her MA dissertation in 2016, Miia conducted a qualitative study about gender dynamics in London's up-and-coming independent radio stations. In 2015, Miia started managing SOAS Radio – an online radio station based at SOAS, University of London that has been broadcasting a wide range of global speech and music content for the last 10 years. In her role she manages the station's training, editorial output and events, coordinates a team of 15 volunteers, and occasionally manages to make radio herself...
Web Developer: Srdjan Stojkovic
Srdjan is a software developer from Belgrade, Serbia, and founder of Escape Velocity, Digital Entrepreneur, Full-Stack Developer, Technology Adviser and Code Addict. You can find out about various projects he has worked on. Srdjan has 10+ years of commercial web development experience. As you can see from our site, he has excellent web /graphic design skills, and has an interest in UX. His proactive urge to advance with latest trends and emerging technologies, allows him to work with industry leaders and innovators. Today he manages client-facing environments and works on complex data sets. Besides his development knowledge, he also advises and works on startup projects. Srdjan is a “big data” advocate who appreciates a challenge.