The Refugee Hosts research project aimed to re-frame debates surrounding ‘humanitarian narratives’ which frequently result in the silencing of refugee experiences and the framing of refugees as suffering victims. In the context of conflict-induced displacement from Syria, these narratives have acted as a barrier to understanding refugee communities; how people with displacement backgrounds themselves respond to protect their rights and the rights of other people; and how people who have been displaced perceive diverse encounters. These aspects of displacement and responses to displacement have been written about by Refugee Hosts’ Writer in Residence and Co Investigators, examples of which can be seen below.
Prof Lyndsey Stonebridge shares key insights from the Refugee Hosts project relating to history and narratives of displacement. If subtitles do not appear please access the video here.
Yousif M. Qasmiyeh, Prof. Philippe Sands and Prof. Lyndsey Stonebridge discuss literature and displacement at the Refugee Hosts’ International Conference in 2019.
Prof. Wen-chin Ouyang, Prof. Matthew Reynolds and Yousif M. Qasmiyeh explore the poetics and politics of translation in displacement at the Refugee Hosts’ International Conference, drawing on texts, fragments and poems produced by displaced people and citizens as part of the Refugee Hosts’ writing workshops convened in camps and cities across the Middle East.
Qasmiyeh, Y. M. (2021) Writing the Camp. Wales: Broken Sleep Books. Highly Commended by the 2021 Forward Prizes; selected as one of the Best Poetry Books of 2021 by The Telegraph and The Irish Times.
Farrier, D. Wooley, A. Stonebridge, L. Durrant, S and Cox, E. (Eds) (2019) Refugee Imaginaries: Research across the humanities. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press
Stonebridge, L. (2020) Writing and Righting. Literature in the Age of Human Rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press
To further challenge these narratives and assumptions, and working closely with our Refugee Hosts Writer in Residence, Yousif M. Qasmiyeh, writing workshops with refugees and local communities offered a critical space for participants to simultaneously document, trace and resist experiences of and responses to displacement. In addition to reflecting on their own journeys and personal encounters, participants also explored how their stories connect – in time, style and motif – with those of others, from the present and the past. Through these workshops, the project has been examining how displaced communities experience providing, seeking, receiving and being excluded from different forms of support.
The project has illuminated the important role that literature and stories play in both motivating responses to, and understanding, experiences of displacement. Past stories of both hosting, and of being hosting, constitute a key device for those navigating contemporary displacement today. We have also thought through the role of literature in relation to translation, which we have explored through the project’s translation workshops in addition to our Translation and Displacement blog series.
Below are a selection of these connected stories. They are documented in a variety of mediums, from prose to poetry, and podcasts to photographs.
Access our Essential Reading on Translation, Poetry and Displacement here.
We will be updating this page with more resources and findings in due course.