Founder and Director: Dr Benjamin Dix, Senior Fellow at SOAS University of London
Dr Benjamin Dix has worked as a Communications Manager for the United Nations and various international NGOs across Asia and Africa for over 12 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 story telling 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.
Emma has worked extensively in the non-for-profit sectors for many years, principally in charities, NGOs and educational settings. Emma joined the PositiveNegatives team as a Communications Consultant in 2014, and she has been working full time as the Education Programme Manager since March 2016. After working for the Home Office in Managed Migration, she has worked for various schools and universities including the SOAS University of London, University College London (UCL) and the Centre for Post-14 Centre of Education at the Institute of Education, University of London. Emma has a First-Class BA with Honours in Latin American Studies from the University of Liverpool. She received an MSc in Violence, Conflict & Development Studies from the SOAS, University of London with Distinctions in both dissertations. Emma speaks Spanish and Portuguese, as she lived in Costa Rica, Cuba and Brazil for three years working for various charities, community groups and capacity-raising NGOs around women’s advocacy work and human trafficking and conflict. Emma is a trained counsellor which assists greatly in these areas, especially with regards for carrying out field research for PositiveNegatives. Emma is also PRINCE2 Practitioner qualified, with an excellent track record of strong organisation skills. In addition, she was part of the highly successful team that won the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (UCL) Director’s Prize for Public Engagement (2014/15) due to the attained level of diverse stakeholder engagement & impact.
Web Developer: Srdjan Stojkovic
Researcher: Ayesha Mago, MSc
Ayesha 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.
Chief Research Officer: Rachel Shapcott, MSc
Rachel 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, MA
Elettra 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.
Communications Officer: Caroline Bolster
Caroline 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.
Communications and Research Officer: Sara Wong
Sara is from Minneapolis, MN, USA where she graduated with a BA in Political Science from the University of Minnesota. Her work experience ranges from state-level party politics to non-profit research. She participated in two study abroad courses that include a social justice course at the University of Cape Town, SA and an exchange in the social sciences department at the University of Amsterdam, NL. Her study abroad experiences left her wanting to engage in social policy and development in a more global context. She is currently studying a Master’s degree in Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London where she plans to write her graduate thesis on the connection between visual art and social movements. Sara joined the team in October 2016 and does research and produces resources for Why Comics?, and gives a variety of other support including fundraising and event management.
Research Officer: Ruchi Chaudhury
Ruchi Chaudhury is currently studying a Master’s degree in Social Anthropology at the SOAS University of London. While pursuing her Bachelor’s in History at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, she worked with the RAHI Foundation as Head Volunteer to raise awareness about sexual violence against women and children and is currently the Managing Director of Empowerment & Diversity at SOAS Finance & Banking. As a painter and theatre practitioner, she conducted theatre and art workshops for patients in rehabilitation centres and scripted plays on ultranationalism, taboos, etc. Her experiences in education include syllabus designing with NGO Bhumi for schooling underprivileged children and serving as an all-form tutor at the public school, Sanskriti Gurukul. Ruchi makes short films on narratives of fantasy and desire, and seeks to counter public discourses on urban Indian sexuality. She joined our team in May 2017 and helps with a variety of support across the board.
Podcast Producer: Miia Laine, MA
Masi is instinctively a visual thinker and storyteller, with a Master of Science in Design for Interaction from the Technische Universiteit Delft. Masi currently works as a Visual Designer, her role is to quickly bring concepts to life. That means translating ideas into visually compelling, working prototypes (whether apps, websites, or printed materials) to share with clients, and test with users. Her work draws on experiences amassed from a rich and varied background encompassing industrial, information, environmental and branding design, but it was the desire to push technology’s potential to better connect people and be magical which influenced her decision to specialise in interaction design. She approaches all projects in an energetic and impassioned manner, be it the pictogram design for international airports and healthcare facilities, or identifying meaningful opportunities for drivers around data captured from their driving habit and vehicle use. Masi kindly designed our fabulous new Why Comics? logo!