Say My Name

2021 – Project

(R) Researcher

Jane Bryan

Academic Lead: Community Values Education Programme, University of Warwick

(R) Researcher

Puja Laporte

Programme Manager, Community Values Education Programme, University of Warwick

View the Artwork

“To hear our research on the importance of names to our sense of identity and connection reflected back to us so creatively by Verity, Luisa, Caryn, Matt and Two Things Music has deepened our own understanding of the key role of names in building respectful interactions and inclusive communities.

“Through poetry and music, we heard afresh the stories that were shared with us so generously in interviews and surveys. Verity and her team have been able to honour and translate those voices into something beautiful and meaningful, allowing us and others to connect far more viscerally with the feelings of pain, invisibility and exclusion that many experience when their names are continually mispronunciation or avoided.” –   Dr Jane Bryan

Gif summarising project

Our research: How do we promote respectful interactions around names?

Aiming to explore and promote respectful interactions around names, the Say My Name project is all about creating a culture of inclusivity, within a diverse learning community. To do this we need to develop practical skills and systems, both individually and institutionally, ensuring both students and staff feel safe and comfortable using their preferred name, without needing to change to fit in.

Capturing real experiences, we explore whether a lack of familiarity with the pronunciation and spelling of names creates barriers to teaching, learning and social interactions. We’ve spoken to both people who have encountered names they find unfamiliar, as well as those who have names others find unfamiliar, including people who have adapted or changed their names to navigate the issue.

Some of things we have heard:

“I give a shortened name to make it easier but it doesn’t feel like my name.  I miss my name.”

“I have been in lectures where lecturers have avoided saying names of some of my course-mates out loud presumably due not concerns about pronunciation.”

“People need to stop trying to guess my race, ethnicity, birthplace or previous place of residence from my name. It is not a game, I do not find it fun.”

“Pronouncing people’s names correctly shows how much care and respect you have for them.”

To find out more about the Say My Name research, visit the University of Warwick project page here.

(A) Artist

Verity Pabla

Singer-songwriter and founder of I'm Not A Machine music

The importance of a name is not something I had been especially considerate about before now. The research carried out by the University of Warwick has opened my eyes as to how a simple aspect of identity can be so complexly interwoven into our experiences with others. In direct relation to the research, students and staff who have ‘difficult to pronounce’ names can feel – for example – overlooked. I have taken for granted how fundamental a name is and I personally take away from the research the desire to be more conscious about valuing all I come into contact with and to be more curious – and less self-conscious – when I meet someone with a name that may not be familiar to me.

I had a good time exploring this topic and developing a few creative works in response to the research. The unexpected opportunity to write and perform a spoken word piece relating to the Say My Name themes actually inspired a lyric that forms part of the ‘From Afar’ track whilst my conversations with Luisa about the monologue helped inspire her songwriting. All three main artistic outputs are showcased here and, although interlinked by the research, they are distinctly different. I like the idea that we have a variety of responses, in different formats, so that we can hopefully reach more people and stimulate their thinking on the topic too. It was great to work with a selection of local creatives in order to achieve that variety artistically, and I hope that our audience enjoys the music as well as the monologue, which was recorded after the live performance so more people have the chance to hear it!

– Verity Pabla

Say My Name Recording Photo Montage From Afar

Having lived in many different countries I’ve had first hand experience of the need to feel included. This project brings to our attention that knowing someones name is a powerful part in achieving that. ‘From Afar’ is in a particularly well placed genre of music to bring the project’s message to the demographic it is intended for. I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this creative journey.

– Caryn Stringer

‘From Afar’ Song

A liquid Drum n Bass track produced by Two Things Music
Featuring Caryn Stringer & Verity Pabla.
Music by Josh Hancock and lyrics by Verity Pabla.
Vocals recorded at 300 Acre Studios by Matt Cotterill.
Mixed and mastered by Two Things Music.

‘Ask Twice’ Song

An acoustic song written and performed by Luisa Chumbinho.
Arranged by Caryn Stringer, Matt Cotterill and Verity Pabla.
Produced by Luisa Chumbinho and Matt Cotterill.
Mixed and mastered at 300 Acre Studios.

‘Say My Name’ Monologue

A short spoken word piece audio recorded and filmed at 1 Mill St
First performed at the Resonate Festival 2021, Assembly Gardens, Coventry.

Find out more about the Say My Name collaborators:



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A digital exhibition of creative work by local artists, each an interpretation of academic research from Coventry University and University of Warwick. Building on last year’s show created during the lockdown, there are 12 new projects for 2021, each aiming to change how we perceive and experience our worlds.

The collaborative commissions this year explore how Covid-19 has impacted hospice care, what museum closures mean to communities, whether artificial intelligence can create art, how we can promote respectful interactions around names, what an ideal society looks like for women of colour, and more.

Coventry Creates is part of the ongoing work by Coventry and Warwick universities in the lead up to and during the City of Culture. The University Partnership has funded over 60 creative research projects, involving many diverse Coventry organisations and local communities. The University of Warwick and Coventry University are both principal partners of Coventry UK City of Culture 2021.

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More information about Coventry Creates