Engage, Participate, Collaborate
What is a Living Refugee Archive and why do we need one? The University of East London’s Library at Docklands has been the home of the Refugee Council Archive for over a decade. According to the Archives Hub database, there are several other archives documenting refugee lives which co-exist in London and beyond. Questions arise as to who accesses these archives? Are refugee archives well-represented in relation to the preservation of lived experience of refugees and migrants? If not, why is this? Who get excluded from refugee-archives, and in what ways? How could we improve access to refugee research archives?
Our aims for the Living Refugee Archive are to:
- Facilitate accessibility to archival resources on the refugee and forced migration experience.
- To encourage interaction with the Archive and to new ways of looking at the future by examining the past.
- To support and encourage community and engagement activities.
- To encourage collaboration between the Archive and Communities and to facilitate cross-disciplinary approaches to our work.
On the LRA
On the Living Refugee Archive, you will find:
- Accessible archival resources including textual documents; multimedia; and oral history.
- Our Publications, including our blog, our journal – Displaced Voices, our Newsletter, and updated news and events pages.
- Access to resources and opportunities to engage in discussion.
The Library, Archives and Learning Services at the University of East London has been the custodian for the Refugee Council Archive now for over a decade and during this time the Archive has continued to develop and grow.
The Refugee Council Archive now includes a rich documentary heritage including over fifty years’ worth of materials collected by the Refugee Council, now supplemented by additional archival collections including the Council for Assisting At-Risk Academics (CARA), the Northern Refugee Centre Archive, an audio-visual collection from the London Office of the UNHCR, Charter 87 and the Cambridge Refugee Support Group archives. We have also just received an archival collection from the Information Centre on Archives and Refugees, (ICAR).
Issues of asylum, displacement, migration and seeking refuge are very much a modern concern as well as an historical one, and we are aware of trying to create a balanced archive to reflect this. Balance is important both in terms of the range, type and format of the materials that we collect, but also in terms of memories and voices that we try to preserve within the Archive. It is important from an archival perspective, to endeavour to collect materials which reflect not only the academic and policy approaches to these issues, but also to document and preserve the primary accounts and experiences to enable the archive to be reflective of the many voices associated with asylum, displacement, racism and migration. We are particularly interested to collect oral testimonies for the Archive and we will also aim to include materials from NGO’s and third sector organisations, community groups, and academic bodies to enhance and develop the collection. Official government publications will also be considered.
We hope that the Living Refugee Archive will be beneficial to an audience interested in seeking information within these fields. We will endeavour to try and make the website relevant to academic users including students, researchers, and academics; policy makers; archivists and librarians; members of the media; but perhaps most important of all, we want to try and make the Living Refugee Archive engaging for both community organisations and the local communities they support. We hope this website will be useful as a focal point for information provision and for those who may not have regular access to physical collections. This therefore is the background to our Living Refugee Archive.