Welcome to the IASFM Working Group for History of Forced Migration and Refugees: An International Working Group for Archiving and Documentation.

This Working Group exists to serve as a focal point for members of the IASFM, and people interested in and/or working within the fields of forced migration and refugee archives e.g. documentation, preservation and researching the history of forced migration and refugees.

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The Working Group will disseminate and preserve original history of forced migration at national and international levels. We recognise that there is a need to work on how knowledge in the field of forced migration is created/ produced and maintained. Our aim, therefore, is to bring together activists, academics, archivists, community advocates and practitioners who are either interested in the history of forced migration and related fields, or are interested in the care and preservation of the archival and library collections that help to preserve the often hidden voices and narrative of the migration journey. With a focus on networking for history of forced migration, we will also address the growing critique of the divide between experts and forced migrants themselves.  We would like to take steps to ensure that the documentation of testimonies associated with the migration journey are actively preserved. We would like to generate new partnerships and networking opportunities for developing forced migration archives and for helping with the creation of knowledge on, and the collection, documentation and preservation of forced migration history.

The Working Group is devoted to develop a cross-spectrum approach to the management and preservation of important archival, library and related collections of materials. We also have a strong commitment to the use of oral history to help fill in the gaps which often exist within the more traditional archival collection. In this age of financial austerity, we are fully aware of the dangers posed to efforts that help to preserve the historical legacy of often marginalised group.

The activities of the Working Group include panel presentations and annual meetings on a topic related to archiving and documenting the history of forced migration at the IASFM conference, and to develop a portal and knowledge hub to share resources with wider readers and community. The members of the Working Group have been regularly meeting to exchange views on how to reach aims. Specifically we are aimed to:

  • share information on archive and history related research findings on forced migration and refugee experience in the UK and elsewhere;
  • assist members with access to published and unpublished material;
  • actively encourage networking and promote collaborations and partnerships in the field of archiving and preserving history of forced migration;
  • share details on funding and develop jointly implemented funded activities;
  • present conference papers, carry out combined publications, and build capacity of the group;
  • maintain a public facing portal providing research based information to interested outsiders; and
  • provide feedback to each other concerning working papers and work in progress.

The coordinators for the group are responsible for maintaining records of the activities as they take place.

Further objectives include:

  • Actively promoting an interest in the history and archives of refugee, migrant and displaced communities
  • Raising awareness and promotion of the value, relevance and importance of `refugee archives’ for education, research, history, heritage and community engagement.
  • Enhancing collective knowledge of existing `refugee archives’ through the media, the internet and Social Media.
  • Encouraging the creation of new `refugee archives’ where they have not previously existed, either in physical or digital media.  Especially in relation to community archives, oral histories and life narratives.
  • Encouraging high standards of collection care and long-term preservation of `refugee archives.’
  • Enhancing networking opportunities for the exchange of information between archivists, researchers, practitioners,  “refugees” and members of the public, including opportunities for virtual and physical networking.
  • Collaboration with other national and international bodies as required, e.g. UNHCR, IOM, and other global human rights organisations in the field of forced migration and refugee history.