UCLA IS Presents Symposium on Displacement, Diaspora and Documentation

International scholars will discuss recordkeeping's role in family separations, trauma, education, and ensuring personal rights, Oct. 19 at UCLA.

A day-long Symposium on Displacement, Diaspora and Documentation will be presented on Friday, Oct. 19 by the Refugee Rights in Records Project based in the Center for Information as Evidence at the UCLA Department of Information Studies. The event will bring together speakers from a wide range of backgrounds and expertise, including people with experience of coming to the United States as refugees, asylum seekers or economic migrants; lawyers, NGOs and others who assist and advocate for them; community representatives; artists and record keepers, archivists and museum curators who manage official records and documentation of displacement and diaspora.

Among the topics to be addressed are the importance of documentation in proving asylum claims; issues faced by children and women migrants related to documenting family separation and facilitating reunification; education and literacy; classification considerations and other identity dilemmas; the infrastructures for personal recordkeeping; ensuring humanitarian-based information technology interventions; and the role of the arts and curatorial fields in capturing and coping with trauma and encouraging the integration of resettled refugees into U.S. society.

Professor Anne Gilliland directs UCLA’s Center for Information as Evidence and the international Archival Education and Research Initiative (AERI).

Professor Anne Gilliland, who directs the Center for Information as Evidence at UCLA and the global Archival Education and Research Initiative (AERI), says that forced displacement and other human migration crises raise complex issues about laws, borders, human rights, citizenship and identity, security, resource allocation, and information and communication technologies. She says that threaded all through these issues are documentation, record-keeping, and curatorial concerns.

Gilliland notes that forced displacement and other mass migration crises have not only immediate humanitarian but also historical and socio-political dimensions and all these interacting factors make them truly a global societal grand challenge.

“At its annual institute in July this year, AERI issued a call to action on the part of researchers, practitioners and other activists and advocates to bring their expertise in documentation and archives to bear on exactly these kinds of wicked problems,” says Gilliland. “It is our hope that this Symposium and similar events that we are organizing around the world throughout 2018 will bring about more understanding of the massive difficulties that asylum seekers and even long-settled refugees face in navigating bureaucratic processes, accessing the contents of records offices and archives, and managing and demonstrating the authenticity of their own documentation.

“Increasing such understanding in turn helps researchers and practitioners in the archives and records field to design better technological, bureaucratic and archiving infrastructures as well as personal recordkeeping education to support asylum seekers and resettled refugees, to (re)present their experiences to the wider public, and beyond that to support recognition and legitimacy for the identities and histories of displaced communities. These Symposia also support the design and implementation of more robust record-keeping systems by NGOs who are working with asylum seeker and refugee populations, often under the most difficult of circumstances, and promote more equitable and accountable record-keeping by government and international agencies,” Professor Gilliland says.

The symposium is co-sponsored by the Liverpool University Centre for Archive Studies and the  Middle Eastern Rights Association. This event is one of a series of events taking place across the globe in 2018 to highlight issues linked to records and other documentation for refugees, asylum seekers and others forced by their circumstances to leave their homes and seek more secure lives and futures elsewhere.

The Symposium on Displacement, Diaspora and Documentation will take place between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Room 111, located at the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies (GSE&IS) Building, North Campus, UCLA.

Admission to the Symposium is free; however, registration is required. To attend the Symposium on Displacement, Diaspora and Documentation, contact Professor Gilliland at Gilliland@gseis.ucla.edu.


For full program information and speaker bios: https://is.gseis.ucla.edu/symposium/


Above: Tents used as temporary housing for Jewish immigrants in Israel. From 1948 to 1951, over 700,000 immigrants entered Israel, most were Holocaust survivors or Jews fleeing Arab lands. Ca. 1950. 

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