About Voice4thought: what we do
Voice4Thought (V4T) is a digital and offline platform that provides a space for voices from around the world to express their thoughts. V4T supports artists, academics, journalists, bloggers, and others who are engaged in socio-political change. Anyone who strongly believes that we need open expression and different voices to create space for socio-political change is welcome.
Voice4Thought was born out of a research project that started in 2012: Connecting in Times of Duress. At that time, West and Central Africa were undergoing many social and political transformations. In Senegal Y’en a marre, a youth movement driven by hip hop artists, united Senegalese citizens to oust their president and demand rights for its citizens. Mali and Niger had Tuareg rebellions. The Central African Republic was plagued by a civil war. There was an arrest of an opposition leader in Chad for the alleged coup plot. Within these societies, youth voices sprang up to protest. At the same time, art and social media became dominant tools for self-expression. We understood these not as a coincidence, but as a conjuncture in history where digital communication and youth culture could create a platform for ‘voices’ or people to be heard. But it was not only the youth who found their voice; many other people took part in this process. They interacted with the researchers of our projects, creating mutual discoveries of reflections, ideas and information. These moulded into research reports, and exchange of information and knowledge. As a result, the notion of co-creation was established, and led to new forms of expression for these voices: biographies in contexts, blogs, video pamphlets and biographic video-accounts. These are the tools through which a ‘voice’ makes us discover new points of view and rethink our world.
These people and their stories that became part of the research have subsequently contributed and been essential to the creation of Voice4Thought: Didier Lalaye (alias “Croquemort”), Pangmashi Yenkong, Ahmadou Jigooru, Salma Khalil, Juliette, Al Hadj, and Rodrigue were the first who shared their stories with us.
Another key focus for Voice4Thought have been the (video) pamphlets and e-publications of these voices. When we started, we did not anticipate the turning tides in Europe and America. In today’s society, polarisations and extremism call for dialogue and action, and to give voice to the unheard in order to share their stories and facilitate change. Voice4Thought wants to step into this space in order to explore, exchange and co-produce knowledge and ideas to tackle these issues with publications, projects and events.
The official launch of Voice4Thought took place in 2014. In 2016 Voice4Thought became an independent, non-profit organisation based in the Netherlands. It is registered with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce/Kamer van Koophandel (KvK 65930029).
Mission and Vision
Voice4Thought: dialogue and knowledge to #thinkcritically
Voice4Thought is a non-profit foundation that offers a platform where different voices of the world participate in building an inclusive debate and critical knowledge on issues concerning our time, such as democracy, activism, radicalisation, to name a few. V4T seeks to promote participation as a response to the tendencies of polarisation that make expression difficult.
We engage with people from diverse geographical and cultural backgrounds who are the actors in on-going and often unseen social and political change within their fields and countries of origin. We provide a platform to let these people tell their stories through academic, artistic and journalistic expressions in order to facilitate and stimulate deeper reflection on socio-political issues.
We seek to bring academia to the streets and the streets to academia: we believe in knowledge as the result of a co-creative process, and work to enable dialogue between academia and civil society in and outside of Europe.
New Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are drivers of change that facilitate the sharing of information and the empowering of individuals. The ICTs that are at our disposal today are central to our approach: they do not only change the ways we communicate and how we gather information, but the very ways in which we connect and think in connections! The power of diverse Voices (V) and ways of Thinking (T) helps us to rethink our world with a critical global perspective. This is why we focus on setting up new and innovative ways of creating knowledge and disseminating food for thought.
We aim to reach out to an increasing number of people through our digital platform, providing free, independent and open content. To provide a platform for engaged initiatives and individuals to share their experiences and to collaborate with others within and outside of The Netherlands, in order to facilitate an exchange of information and opinions with those engaged in a socio-political change in other corners of the globe. We aim to provide networking space for individuals by making them more visible towards the wider audience through the V4T website and several offline projects and events throughout the year.
By integrating different forms of knowledge production, we aim to bring the academic and artistic objectives and research results of the V4T network to society at large. We use the biographical method and other ethnographic methodologies in an experimental framework, which involves using visuals to promote an interactive fruition of our projects. With this approach, we aim to elaborate new forms of dissemination of knowledge by the collaboration with cultural organisations, universities and publishing houses to start new initiatives inspired by the V4T philosophy. We aim to create more possibilities of digital communication by implementing new ways of integrating ICTs as tools for our projects. We embrace the possibilities opened by new technologies and the role of the digital world in turning our projects into reality and to develop innovative initiatives that will have an impact on living conditions of people in developing areas, a clear impact in fostering knowledge production and diffusion in areas where it is difficult to reach.