refugee rights in records (R3) INItIATIVE


The United Nations (UN) estimates that the numbers of forcibly displaced persons has reached 70.8 million people worldwide. The UN identifies several categories of forcibly displaced people: refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons, stateless persons and returnees. Displacement crises raise complex interacting issues about nation-states, laws, borders, human rights, citizenship and identity, security, resource allocation and information and communication technologies (ICT); as well as long-term recovery from trauma and well-being. Personal documentation and particularly official records are pervasive and integral to this complexity and to recovery, yet human-centric documentation needs are under-supported. 

Working both with current and historical refugee and diasporic populations, the Refugee Rights in Records Initiative encompasses multiple research projects addressing different aspects of the following:

  • Identifying and making visible ways in which official records (including bio-records), bureaucratic practices and other more personal or  "irregular" forms and uses of records play crucial roles at many points in the lives of displaced people. 
  • Identifying and understanding from the perspectives of refugees, governments and aid agencies, the roles and implications of cloud services, blockchain, social media and smartphones for the creation, movement, preservation and accessing of records and personal materials, as well as in memory-keeping.
  • Identifying ways in which professionals and agencies involved in archives and record-keeping in affected countries might contribute and collaborate to locating, protecting, validating, securing and certifying such records; and also to identify potential policy recommendations supporting specific refugee rights in records. 
  • Identifying and preserving artistic and other creative interventions in documenting or raising the profile of refugee experiences.
  • Understanding the impact of forced displacement and diaspora upon  successive generations and the role played by archives and storytelling in memory transmission and recovery from trauma.
  • Developing educational interventions that would support refugees in understanding recordkeeping requirements and in carrying, locating, securing and preserving reliable copies of their own documentation.

Project Outcomes & Related Resources

Upcoming Events

  • How the Missing Matter, Symposium,  RMIT University, Melbourne, 30 August 2019
  • AERI 2019, Liverpool University, July 8-12, 2019
  • Rustat Conference on Blockchain in the Real World, June 13, 2019

Previous Events and Supporting Materials

  • Symposium on Refugees, Documentation, and Archives, Malmö City Archives, Sweden, 21 November 2018
  • Simpozij Ljudska prava izbjeglica u zapisima, 15. studenoga 2018. u 9,30 sati, Znanstveni zavod Hrvatskih studija Sveučilišta u Zagrebu, Znanstveno – učilišni kampus Borongaj/Refugee Rights in Records Symposium 15 November  2018 at 9,30, University Department of Croatian Studies, University of Zagreb, Borongaj Campus 
  • Symposium on Displacement, Diaspora and Documentation,  UCLA Center for Information as Evidence and the Middle Eastern Rights Association, University of California, Los  Angeles, October 19, 2018.
  • Refugee Rights in Records Symposium, School of History, Humanities Institute of Ireland, University College Dublin, August 9, 2018.
  • Personal Record-Keeping: Protecting Your Rights through Records Workshop, University of Liverpool, July 3, 2018.
  • Anne J. Gilliland, Krystell Jimenez and Lauren Sorensen, "The Role of Archives in Addressing Refugee Crises/Records and ICT at the Boundaries of the State," panel,  AERI 2018, University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, July 2018.
  • Rights in Records for Refugees Symposium, co-sponsored by UCLA, LUCAS and the Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives at Central European University, 10 January, 2018 in the Blinken Open Society Archives, Budapest, Hungary.Gilliland, Anne J., Krystell Jimenez and Lauren Sorensen, "The Role of Archives in Addressing Refugee Crises/Records and ICT at the Boundaries of the State," panel,  AERI 2018, University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, July 2018.