Lived Experiences, “Moving Memories” and the Refugee Archive:
The Ethics of Archiving and Oral History in the Preservation and Re-use of Migration Data

By Paul V. Dudman
Archivist, University of East London

CEU Research Seminar in History
Wednesday, 6th May 2020.  4.30pm.
Online, via Zoom.

CEU History Group:

We are continuing our departmental Research Seminar with a new and interesting subject, which shows the many entanglements between academic work and civic engagement on a topic that is still relevant today!

Lecturer: Paul V Dudman, Archivist at the University of East London

Title: Lived Experiences, “Moving Memories” and the Refugee Archive: The Ethics of Archiving and Oral History in the Preservation and Re-use of Migration Data

Abstract: For fifteen years the University of East London has been the home of the archives of the Refugee Council, one of the largest collections focusing on refugee and migration issues in the UK from 1951 through to the present. In recent years, we have been undertaking a number of civic engagement and outreach projects on behalf of the Archive to encourage cross-disciplinary working and engagement between both university academic schools and services and also with third sector organizations and especially with refugees and asylum seekers themselves.
This talk will focus on the ethical and managerial considerations involved in undertaking civic engagement and outreach activities with vulnerable communities and will consider the ethical challenges of turning existing testimonies held within the archive into the participatory theatre. This lecture will utilize case studies from our Refugee Council Archive – including our projects to create a Living Refugee Archive by attempting to preserve and document refugee and forced migration testimonies using an oral history methodology and engaging with second-year theatre studies students and the ethical approaches needed for creating participatory theatre based on archival narratives.

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The lecture will consider the barriers associated with accessing historical/archival information on refugee and migration issues as well as the (dis)continuities that appear over time in migration accounts, policy-making, research and practice, and the impacts these have on our work. The lecture will explore the complex interplay of memories and forgetting in the development of the histories of immigration and refugee history to help shape current responses to refugees and migrants. For the archive, there are important discussions to be had in relation to our processes of collecting (community) memories especially in relation to the interplay of power dynamics as to which communities and voices are present within the archive and which are under-represented. In responding to refugee crises, how can we as archivists actively engage in ethically documenting, preserving, and making accessible reliable, accurate, and trustworthy materials and collections which genuinely reflect the testimonies and life histories of refugees and asylum seekers.

Zoom meeting:

Zoom meeting ID: 840 8968 2831
Password: 810551