The Bangladeshi community is one of the UK's most disadvantaged, suffering from high rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. The burdens of ill health and social exclusion fall most heavily on older women – who often bear the responsibility for taking care of large families – but little is known about how their health, nutritional status and diet are affected by the experience of migration.
Using a visual ethnography approach, the photographs presented on this website explore the complicated interplay between migration, nutrition and ageing in a cross-section of Bengali women in the UK and in Bangladesh. Taken mostly in Cardiff, London and Sylhet – the region in north-east Bangladesh where the majority of the UK's Bangladeshi community originates – some are observational portraits exploring the lives and situations of the women who took part, while others touch upon wider cultural issues, such as the position of women in society. The voices of Bengali women – both in their motherland and in their adopted home – often go unheard. These photographs tell their stories.
These photographs and stories are an outcome of Project MINA: Migration, Nutrition and Ageing across the Lifecourse in Bangladeshi Families: A Transnational Perspective – a three-year (2008 – 2011) research project funded by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) under the New Dynamics of Ageing (NDA) programme. The project aims to aid the development of culturally sensitive interventions to improve the health of the UK's growing Bangladeshi population.
The MINA team includes Professor Janice Thompson (University of Bristol), Professor Barry Bogin (Loughborough University), Professor Joy Merrell (Swansea University), Dr Vanja Garaj (Brunel University), Professor Michael Heinrich (University of London School of Pharmacy), Professor Petra Meier (University of Sheffield), Jasmin Chowdhury (Swansea University), Diane Harper (Loughborough University), Hannah Jennings (University of London School of Pharmacy), and Dr Bablin Molik (University of Bristol).
The photographs and stories were exhibited 15 November to 15 December 2011 in the Senedd, the National Assembly for Wales, and the Cardiff Story, the new museum of Cardiff's history.
All photographs were taken by Vanja Garaj, a documentary photographer and a lecturer in digital media design at Brunel University, London.
The curators for the exhibit are Anna Gormley, Bablin Molik and Janice Thompson
The text for the stories was written by journalist Nick Hunt.
If you are interested in finding out more about the MINA photographs and stories, please contact Professor Janice Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Dr Vanja Garaj (email@example.com).