Sponsored by the Center for Information as Evidence, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the University of Liverpool Centre for Archive Studies (LUCAS), and the Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives at Central European University
10 January 2018, 9:00-17.50
Held at the Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives in Budapest, Hungary.
In late 2016 the United Nations (UN) estimated that the numbers of forcibly displaced persons had exceeded more than 65 million people worldwide. 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). Integral to this complexity, documentation and particularly official records are pervasive and fundamental yet somehow rarely conspicuous. While much attention has been focused on official verification of identities and citizenship of displaced persons, vetting them for security risks, reunifying families, and determining whether they qualify for asylum and resettlement, issues that refugees and other displaced persons confront in accessing, carrying and producing the kinds of authoritative documentation that they require to be successful in these processes remains under-addressed.
This symposium featured speakers from a range of international bodies, NGOs, archives and academic institutions discussing ways in which official records (including bio-records) and bureaucracies, archival documentation, and other more "irregular" forms and uses of records play crucial roles in the lives of displaced people as they travel across state boundaries, interact with governments and aid agencies, and eventually resettle into new countries and interface with their bureaucratic systems or return/are returned to their places of origin. The aims of the symposium were threefold: to make visible and understand the role of records in the lives of refugees, historically and contemporarily; to identify potential mechanisms for helping refugees and their advocates to locate, access and present trustworthy records on their own behalf; and to work towards a platform of refugee rights in records.