Meet Our Team

Dr Benjamin Dix, Senior Fellow at SOAS, University of London

Founder and Director

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. After working as a photojournalist across India for 7 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 storytelling 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. Ben founded Why Comics? in 2016 to increase the impact of the portfolio, and as the ethnographic comics had always been so successful in schools across the world. Teachers and students across wide demographics said that they found learning through the visual communications tools very effective, and made them want to learn more. 

 

Emma Saville, MSc

Acting Managing Director

Emma has worked extensively in the non-for-profit sectors for many years, principally in charities, NGOs and educational settings, she helped found Why Comics? in 2016. She speaks Portuguese and fluent Spanish, as she lived in Costa Rica, Cuba and Brazil for several years doing social research and working for various charities, community groups and capacity-raising NGOs around women's advocacy work, human trafficking and conflict. Emma is PRINCE2 Practitioner qualified, with an excellent track record of strong organisation skills. She received a First-Class BA with Honours in Latin American Studies from the University of Liverpool and an MSc in Violence, Conflict & Development Studies from the SOAS University of London. After working for the Home Office in Managed Migration in 2006, Emma has worked for various NGOs, schools and universities including the SOAS, University College London (UCL) and the Centre for Post-14 Centre of Education, Institute of Education, University of London. Emma is a trained counsellor which assists greatly in carrying out field research for PositiveNegatives. 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.

 

Escape Velocity

Web Development/Design

Escape Velocity is a boutique digital shop that brings flexibility and expertise to the ballpark. We are a team of hungry geeks craving a challenge. As creative as we can get we play with modern and relevant technologies. If we can't locate suitable technologies we build them. We are clean and precise with code. Our development team carries passion for innovation and eye catching digital brilliance.

Rachel Shapcott, MSc

Chief Research Officer

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.

Caroline Bolster

Communications Officer

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.

Sara Wong

Communications and Research Officer

Sara is from Minneapolis, Minnesota, 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 is writing her graduate dissertation on collective culture/the arts and social change. 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.

Enrica Masi

Visual Designer

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!

Elettra Pellanda, MA

Education Programme Officer

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.

Poppy Ogier

Communications and Research Officer

Poppy has a BA with First Class Honours in Politics with International Relations from the University of York. Before pursuing her BA she worked as an assistant primary school teacher in France, and then as an English tutor and volunteer at Future Hope’s school and homes for vulnerable children in Kolkata, India. Poppy is currently studying for a Master’s degree in Post-war Recovery Studies at the University of York where she is writing her dissertation on the influence of virtual social networks on the humanitarian response to the refugee/migrant crisis in Greece. She joined the team in July 2017.

Sabina Kariat

Visual Designer and Animator

Originally from Northern California, Sabina is currently studying Illustration and Minoring in Literary Studies at Rhode Island School of Design. In the past she has worked with 1AM street art gallery (San Francisco), writing articles about contemporary activism within street art. She has also interned at the Kokrobitey Institute in Ghana, where shi produced branding and web designs, and crafted an illustrative visual essay based on fieldwork interviews, exploring the relationship between tradition and sustainability. Sabina has also worked with anthropologist Professor Anila Daulatzai to make research on the effects of liberal feminist ideologies on widows in Afghanistan accessible through illustration. Through the use of surreal and conceptual imagery, Sabina strives to capture nonfiction narratives that deconstruct social justice issues. She joined the team in June 2017 and as in-house animator she primarily crafts mixed media illustrations for our resources, designs for promotional material and brings comics to life through animation.

Grace Benati

Communications and Research

Grace has a BA in Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese at King’s College London. Grace is from London, but her interest in Latin America began after a year of volunteering in Argentina and Brazil. After her BA, she lived in Milan for a year and taught English to groups of international students at the University of Pavia, Italy. She is currently studying a MSc in Development and International Studies (Latin American Studies Specialisation) at Aalborg University, Denmark. During this time she took part in two projects: The Colombian Peace Process and Women’s Rights in Mexico. Grace joined the team in September 2017.

 

Why Comics? is based at the Faber Building, SOAS University of London.

Registered Charity Number: 1172791

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