The landscapes of the disappeared

An interactive and immersive digital story

Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime
Screengrabs showing the title screen and Daniela Rea's illustration that anchors the project.


Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime

Project type:

Interactive website


Data visualisation
See it live

Where are these people, and what does it mean to search for them? Kontinentalist worked with Global Initiative to tell the stories and landscapes of the disappeared among us. Read this story for the journeys of those who search—for people and for meaning.

An animated screengrab that showcases the horizontal scrolling mechanism.

About the project

Global Initiative launched a fellowship in 2020, with 10 fellows around the world, focusing on disappearances related to organised crime and the affected communities. The project ‘Disappeared is a place: The landscapes and stories of those who are #StillMissing’ is a collaboration between the Resilience Fund Fellows and award-winning Mexican journalist Daniela Rea.

The challenge

How do we talk about the disappeared?

Enforced disappearances are often framed as a human rights issue in conversations about totalitarian governments and military dictatorships. But this scope can be narrow, and obscures the reality of the issue: enforced disappearances are pervasive, and it tears apart the social fabric of communities. Our design needed to treat this topic with dignity, and allow readers to understand the real impact that enforced disappearances have had on the lives of families and communities.

The landscapes of the disappeared

Disappearances is a global phenomena

This project is anchored by Daniela Rea’s story on enforced disappearances in Mexico, but crucially, there were contributions from each fellow about enforced disappearances in their communities too. Our challenge was to pull together these contributions in a meaningful way, and still provide an in-depth and immersive reading experience.

An example of how Dandelion flowers are used as a recurring motives and to signify points of interaction.
Illustration that we created, in Daniela's style, around the family member's account.
Interactive map that highlights the cases in different parts of Mexico.

Our creative solution

The design of this story took inspiration from the idea of ‘landscapes’. Using the dandelion flower as a motif, we incorporated floating flower petals to weave the different elements of the story together. Its soft movement and presence also represents the fragility of life,  allowing readers to feel like they are a part of the landscapes. 

Parallax scrolling is also used to visually transport the reader
from one scene to the next. It helps them feel like they are reading a book, flipping from one page to the next. The empty spaces throughout the page is also used to encapsulate emptiness and loss, and effects such as fade and opacity amplify that emptiness. 

Our partners

Global Initiative is an independent civil society organization based in Geneva, Switzerland. Its network includes prominent practitioners in law enforcement, development, and governance committed to finding new and innovative strategies and responses to organised crime.

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