top of page
Trust Maps

"Trust Maps" is an arts-based workshop that reflects with migrant and non-migrant communities on the importance of trust in the everyday-life. The aim is to understand that trust is essential to bridge borders within local communities, but also to maintain relationships with other important people living at a distance. Furthermore, trust is essential to come along with everyday life: we must trust people, organisations as schools or social services and of course the society itself. Especially forced migrants face multiple challenges to develop trust against the background of their experiences of persecution and flight. It is often difficult for members of communities to verbalize their experiences of trust and mistrust. Therefore, it is helpful to start visualizing trust networks. On the basis of these visualized network maps, community members can start an exchange on their experiences and improve their understanding of each other’s life worlds.

Rationale of the methodologies using arts-based community:

The starting point of Trust Maps is the visualizing approaches of qualitative social-network-analysis. Qualitative network maps aim at visualizing the social relationships of a person. These networks are usually centred around one person whose relationships to other persons, animals, objects, buildings etc. are visualized on a map. In qualitative social research, the map is usually a given template with Ego (the person, the group, the community, etc.) in the centre of the map and equidistant circles surrounding Ego. By starting with a visualization of relationships, it is easy for the social researcher to start talking with people about their relationships, experiences, stories, etc. Arts can help to use the basic idea of qualitative network analysis and transform it into an important and meaningful method for understanding the life world of other people and to start an exchange about trust.

Trust Maps can be created within a workshop with migrant and non-migrant community members. The workshop leaders are supposed to identify one or several ways of creating these maps. For this it is essential to identify useful materials with which people can visualize a) the nodes of a network: people, animals, things, groups etc., b) the relationship between the nodes (edges), consisting of trust, mistrust, love, hate, dependence, independence etc. and, finally, c) the terrain on which nodes and edges are located.

It is possible to embed such a Trust Map Workshop within a university course with students who are supposed to find out more about the importance of trust within migrant and non-migrant communities. Students learn about theoretical basics of trust, develop a workshop design for a community, invite community members, conduct the workshop and reflect on their experiences against the background of what they have learned before.


Organizational requirements, equipment and materials:

A Trust Maps Workshop can be conducted in every place that is considered to be safe for all participants. It is important that during the workshop participants can find a private space in order to create their own personal maps. Therefore, a place with enough space for the group as well as for single persons is needed. The leaders of the workshop should bring along all the materials that are necessary to create the maps, including the nodes, the edges and the terrain. It takes about three hours to introduce, to conduct, and to reflect on the network maps. 


Approaches to securing the access and the collaboration of communities:

The workshop leaders must get in contact with community members well in advance, to explain the idea of the workshop and to enable participation in creating the setting of the workshop. Since trust maps are a sensitive issue by which participants show vulnerabilities to community members, it is important that all participants are informed about the importance of confidentiality. It is not advisable to conduct such a workshop among community members with conflicts or tensions.


Implementation process:

The starting point of a trust maps workshop are community members who are interested in reflecting on their own life and interested in getting in contact with other members of the community that they do not know yet very well. Getting in contact with community members, explaining what the workshop is all about, describing the process and the expected outcome is necessary.

At the beginning of the workshop, leaders must create a safe space in which confidentiality is crucial. It is also important to inform the participants that they can use the workshop to create their own trust map, but they do not have to speak about these maps or to disclose any personal information. Furthermore, the workshop leader should introduce participants to materials that are available and to explain how to use these materials and tools.

The phase of creating network maps usually starts with the participants' choice of materials for their personal trust map. It continues with the phase in which participants create alone or in a group their network map. Often, people get in a dialogue about their networks, about people in the network and share stories. Whether participants create their maps alone or in a group, the process can be very emotional as the participants may remember important, pleasant or unpleasant situations. For this, it is important for workshop leader’s to be prepared, have time for accompanying participants, and if necessary, to refer participants to further psychological or medical support.

The phase of sharing and reflecting on personal maps can be emotional as well. It is pivotal to explain that participants are free to decide whether they would like to share their maps with others or not. It is important to make it clear that whatever the participants choose, their trust map is valued.


Outcome of the workshop:

Trust maps are chances for communities to identify shared experiences, understand differences and to visualize the world-wide connections community members have. The products depend on the materials used and the time invested in creating the trust maps. 




























Herz, A., & Olivier, C. (2012). Transnational Social Network Analysis. In: Transnational Social Review, 2(1), 11-29.

Schmittgen, J., Köngeter, S., & Zeller, M. (2017). Transnational networks and border-crossing activities of young refugees. In: Transnational Social Review, 7(2), 219-225.


Name of the Workshop: Trust Maps

Facilitator of the Workshop: Prof. Stefan Köngeter & Dr. Marc Tull

bottom of page