En Palabras [Relatos migrantes]

En Palabras
People's engagement and participation
Build-up laboratory

En Palabras [Relatos migrantes] is a collective project of literary creation and editing, that reunites refugees, migrants and writers from all around Latin America who are residents in Barcelona.

Its aim is to develop a project of communitarian documentation and of construction of memory around the situations of violence and rights violation that oblige people from the Latin America region to abandon their native lands, and around the difficulties they face during the travel and when they arrive at the host destination.

The project provides a trusted environment and a space for mutual recognition around creative writing, where participants conceive and share life stories. The methodology explores the forms of literary expressions such as poetry, short stories and chronicles and the collection of different documentation (photos, clippings, letters, drawings, etc.). With this set of materials, participants create personal archives that are used as the base for the writing of texts that will be presented publicly during literary events.

Literary production is intended as a means to make their voices heard and give visibility to an “invisible” issue. Building a common memory strengthens self-confidence as well as personal and collective development, and contributes to tying bonds of solidarity and cooperation among the members of a vulnerable community, promoting participation and empowerment of people, intended as active agents of change.

Beyond the creative writing workshops, En Palabras also organizes literary events in cultural venues of the city, where participants may read and present their texts to the public. They also published a book that contained the stories of the workshops’ participants.

Main results and impacts produced by the initiative on the selected MESOC crossover themes

The project aims at strengthening self-confidence, personal development, increasing self-esteem and improving creative skills, self-expression skills and artistic writing techniques, generating a process of self-identification and memory building in their new social environment.

Over the 3 years of the project, it has seen the participation of 120 people from 12 different Latin American countries.

The project also increases organizational skills and community cooperation, fostering civic engagement, social cohesion and participation in artistic spaces of relations, exchange and coexistence. The project has seen (over these 3 years) the participation and co-production of 6 cultural events with the participants. During these literary events, participants were able to read and present the short stories they had written during the workshop.

The project also helps to widen the social capital of Latin American migrants of the city of Barcelona, promoting access to iconic cultural venues and spaces, getting in touch with the local population and interesting writers (the workshop facilitators), and getting to know social organizations and public institutions. Since the start of the project, En Palabras has created relationships with 5 cultural venues, 14 professional writers, and 4 social organizations.

The project intends as well to make the migrant problems visible to the general public, so that they get to know the issues relating to forced migration in countries of Latin America. The aim is to raise public awareness around these issues. This “dissemination” activity is done through the literary events organized in collaboration with local cultural venues and centres, but also with the publication and distribution of one book of the stories produced in the workshops. They also spread the word through social media and other communication channels.

Other relevant impacts

The literary environment of the city is ideal to boost collective processes of literary creation and edition, since the strong networks allow to put common resources available for people. Their networking activity has allowed them to create other collaborations, for example with the Ethnological Museum of Barcelona.

Elements that contributed to the generation of these impacts

Contextual and exogenous conditions:

  • The project is made possible thanks to the support from the Barcelona City Council, through their policy line on refugees reception.
  • They also detect an emerging trend relating to autobiographic creative writing in the case of migration processes.
  • They receive a high number of applications to their project, because many participants value the opportunity to work with renowned writers and the fact that workshops are free.


Resources obtained from applications to call for projects have made possible the sustainability of the initiative over time, since professionals have to be economically remunerated. Collaborating entities (like the Ethnological Museum of Barcelona) provide infrastructure (spaces) for the workshops.

The project has been financed by the following organizations over the 3 years:

  • 2018: Barcelona City Council (through the Programme “Ciutat Refugi” dedicated to refugees reception)
  • 2019: Barcelona City Council (through the Programme “Ciutat Refugi” dedicated to refugees reception and through the general call for cultural projects of the ICUB
  • Culture Institute of Barcelona) + Art for Change Programme of Fundació La Caixa (bank foundation)
  • 2020: Catalan Institute for Peace; Barcelona City Council (through the Programme “Ciutat Refugi” dedicated to refugees reception) and Ethnological Museum of Barcelona

Most of the expenses are dedicated to pay human resources (1 person for workshops coordination and editing; 1 person for management and organization; 1 person for communication; and 8 workshops facilitators).

Typology of programmes:

The Project has 3 main typologies of programmes:

  • Participatory activity of creative writing with the accompaniment of the writers as workshops’ facilitators
  • Co-creation of public and digital publications
  • Co-production of literary events (dissemination activity)