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Opening the Archive The Refugee Experience

The Manchester Refugee Support Network archive: A right to history

You might think there is something contradictory about a refugee archive: archives are the permanent repositories of physical history, whilst refugees are transitory and homeless – those who have lost their history.

But the archive of the Manchester Refugee Support Network (MRSN), recently deposited with us following completion of a major heritage project, challenges this assumption. Not least in the sheer amount of material; 12 boxes of physical material and more than 30,000 digital files, charting the 20 year history of this remarkable organisation. From governance, services and partnerships to cultural programmes (such as the Refugee World Cup and Manchester Refugee Cultural Festival), campaigning activities and the many community organisations that made up the network.

photograph of archive items in a display case, including Manchester Refugee Cultural Festival brochure and te How to set up a Refugee Organisation guidebookBuilding this archive and depositing it with us, here at Central Library, creates permanence and acceptance, carving out a place in history for Manchester’s many refugee communities.

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Book Reviews Our library The Refugee Experience

The Refugee Experience Book Reviews: Border Watch

This week the government announced that the UK will take 20,000 Syrian refugees between now and 2020. This has prompted Jo Manby to look back at her archive for reviews of books, available in our library, that look at the refugee experience in Britain. Read the others here and here.

This review is adapted from an original piece published in the Centre’s journal Ethnicity and Race in a Changing World.

Book review: Border Watch: Cultures of Immigration, Detention and Control by Alexandra Hall (Pluto Press: London and New York, 2012)

This ethnographically researched volume uncovers the hidden day-to-day world of the immigration detention centre from the perspective of the officers. Its premise is that an understanding of the effects of the act of detaining individuals relies upon an awareness of the intimate details of how exactly the ‘secure regime’ works on the level of ordinary, everyday experience and interaction.

Photograph of people in an airport walking towards UK Border checkpoint
Source: dannyman, http://www.flickr.com/photos/dannyman