The Refugee Hosts research project aimed to re-frame the 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 and their perceptions of diverse encounters.
To challenge these assumptions, creative 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 is examining refugee experiences of providing, seeking, receiving and being excluded from different forms of support.
The project has illuminated the important role 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 explored through translation workshops as well as a blog series on Translation and Displacement.
Below are a selection of these connected stories. They are documented in a variety of mediums, from prose to poetry, and podcasts to photographs.