There are endless narratives about refugees written by outsiders, where they are victimized, generalized, and pathologized. What if refugees, instead of being the subject, chose the subject? What if they controlled the narrative? What stories would be told then? What images would be displayed?  

LIVED has partnered with Refuweegee, a community-based project with the aim of welcoming refugees in Glasgow, to give refugees who have arrived in Scotland and want to share their experiences the tools and platform to do so. With disposable cameras, journals, and art supplies, participants are invited to document and creatively describe their hopes and aspirations, sense of home and belonging, and emotional lives in Glasgow. These materials will then be gathered and exhibited at the University of Edinburgh in late May with the aim of giving a voice to the refugees who have settled here.

At the crux of this activity is the principle that participants will tell their own stories—that they’ll be given the materials to choose their own subjects and narrative rather than becoming subject to yet another outside narrative. In this spirit, LIVED will meet with participants in May to explain the project and its guiding themes. Each participant or household group of participants will be given a disposable camera with 27 exposures. We will also provide notebooks and stationery as an optional supplemental medium for sharing experiences and thoughts, and art supplies will be given to any children participating, for the same ends. When we return to Glasgow to collect these materials, participants will be invited to discuss their thoughts on the project and to share anything further that they’d like to have included as a part of their exhibition.

Through photographs and the option of providing additional written, drawn, and oral accounts, we hope to establish an open and holistic grounds for participants to share their lived experiences as refugees settling in Scotland. For those who’d like to, we will also take their portrait photograph, to bring a face to their stories when they’re shared at the exhibition. Participants will be invited to the launch, which will include a reception and an informal panel discussion.  

*This initiative has been made possible through the efforts of our wonderful student volunteers: Arla, Mari, Sarah, Nannie, Devina, Robin and Sahba.