Exhibition explores migrant histories
A new exhibition at Brighton’s Jubilee Library captures the lives of some of the migrants who have settled in the city and explores their hidden histories.
The exhibition of images and text, which will run until 1 July and coincides with national Refugee Week from 18-24 June, is the result of an 18-month project by academic staff in the Centre for Community Engagement (CCE) at Sussex.
Dr Linda Morrice from CCE issued an open invitation to migrants living in Brighton and Hove and 22 volunteered to become involved.
CCE trained this group in carrying out interviews about life history; they then came up with the questions and identified the individuals to interview.
After the volunteers had conducted and transcribed a number of audio interviews, they used extracts from the transcripts as a prompt to encourage further storytelling and writing among migrant groups.
The stories in the exhibition therefore reflect the interests and concerns of the participants, who were keen to counter balance the negative portrayal of migrants - and in particular of refugees and asylum seekers - in the media.
At the same time they felt it was important not to hide some of the struggles and difficulties facing migrants as they adapt to a new, and often very different, culture and way of life.
Dr Morrice says: “It would be an impossible task to try to capture and represent the voices and experience of all the various groups who have come to live in Brighton and Hove. Instead, this project gives a flavour of some of the lives of some of the migrants who have come to settle here.”
The exhibition was officially opened by the Mayor of Brighton and Hove, Councillor Bill Randall, on Tuesday (12 June).
Dr Morrice hopes that the book and the website accompanying the exhibition will be used to promote further inter-cultural dialogue and learning.
CCE’s work with migrants is part of a larger Hidden Histories project involving partners based in Austria, Finland, Ireland and the UK.
The partners have also worked with Deaf communities and rural communities, enabling these often socially excluded groups to explore their 'hidden histories' and, through exhibitions and websites, to share their stories with wider communities.