Refugee project piloted by UEL Archives
A new project based at the University of East London Archives is exploring the idea of creating a website that documents the experiences of refugees living in the UK.
Organisers say the effort will strengthen the UEL Archives’ ties with the community and promote access to its collections, particularly among people outside academia.
“We’re hoping to pilot a Living Refugee Archive website which we hope will improve access to both recording and documenting of refugee voices through the collection of oral histories,” Paul Dudman, archivist at UEL, said.
The pilot project is an extension of UEL’s existing Refugee Council Archive, which houses documents on refugees and forced migration originally compiled by the charity of the same name.
While a new Living Refugee Archive website would focus mostly on interview recordings, it could also include photographs and documents. The plan is for material to be gathered through extensive outreach into the community, much of it done by UEL students.
“We were very keen to go out and engage with community groups beyond the traditional academic approach, so we can more clearly understand the range and types of material that matter to these various groups,” Mr Dudman said.
“We can then aim to reflect that in the archival collections we hold here,” he explained.
The initial exploration phase of the project is funded by the University’s Civic Engagement Fund.
Mr Dudman and partner Dr Rumana Hashem recently hosted a special Archives Open Day in conjunction with Refugee Week 2015.
“We felt it was important to have an open day to encourage users who might not have known about the Archives, or previously visited us, to come in and have a look around,” Mr Dudman said.
“We want to showcase the kind of archive materials that we have and encourage feedback from participants about how we can develop the Archives and take it forward,” he said.
Mr Dudman and Dr Hashem are also coordinating a workshop that will look at who accesses refugee archives; whether these archives adequately reflect the daily experiences of refugees and migrants; what kinds of experiences are included in refugee archives; and how access can be improved.
Notes to Editors
The University of East London (UEL) is a global learning community with students from over 120 countries world-wide. Our vision is to achieve recognition, both nationally and internationally, as a successful and inclusive regional university proud of its diversity, committed to new modes of learning which focus on students and enhance their employability, and renowned for our contribution to social, cultural and economic development, especially through our research and scholarship. We have a strong track-record in widening participation and working with industry.