Nordic Journal of Migration Research (Dec 2021)

Stitching People Together: The Art of Cross-Cultural Encounters in an Embroidery Workshop

  • Marit Aure,
  • Marsil Andjelov Al-Mahamid

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 4


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This article discusses how to live with differences while maintaining differences in an international embroidery workshop in Tromsø, Norway. It explores the role of art in enabling interactions between strangers, showing how individuals become part of collectives and facilitate social change. This collaboration between artist and researcher draws on data from arts-based participant observations and qualitative interviews. The analysis shows how embroidery practices, materials, and the expression of the embroideries create a space affording integrative encounters between strangers, easing the interaction which neither presupposes nor asks for similarities, or aims for strong interpersonal relations. We find that difference is the material through which encounters are made. The embroidering and the workshop create a space owned by no one with no majorities or minorities, where all possess differences but do not produce “otherness.” Participants remain different, yet connect and transform, while demonstrating the possibilities of impersonal cross-cultural encounters.