There will always be a vendor before and after the picture

This piece continues a series of poetic responses to photographs taken by Refugee Hosts PI Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh during a field-trip to Baddawi refugee camp and the neighbourhood of Jebel al-Baddawi in North Lebanon, and to a range of neighbourhoods in Beirut in March-April 2018. Written by Refugee Hosts Writer-in-Residence Yousif M. Qasmiyeh and PI Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, they reflect on everyday encounters in and dynamics of displacement.

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There will always be a vendor before and after the picture

By Yousif M. Qasmiyeh and Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Refugee Hosts

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A Syrian coffee vendor in motion © Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Baddawi Camp, North Lebanon, April 2018.

 

It is a photograph of a coffee vendor in motion; of somebody who is familiar enough with the routes of the camp to roam them with relative ease.

The clanking of the cups, emanating from the collision of two porcelain cups – fragile but not too fragile – in the vendor’s hand, can still be heard or seen from beyond the picture.

But what is the clanking for? What does it signify amongst other signifiers, in a noisy context such as the camp where sounds continually fight for a space to be(come) sounds.

The truly inaudible clanking is nothing but a testimony of arrival into a place, a shibboleth, a different dialect.

The vendor will soon escape the picture or be pushed away by another.

However, somewhere, there will always be a vendor before or after the picture, or more precisely inside of it, boiling his coffee in silence.

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Photograph Credit: Syrian coffee vendor in motion © Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Baddawi Camp, North Lebanon, April 2018.

Read, and listen, to more creative responses to/as our research in our Creative Archive, including soundscapes of Baddawi camp here.

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