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Refugee Wales - The Afterlife of Violence

Examining the narratives of recent and past refugees, with sensitive focus on belonging, trauma and memory, Refugee Wales – the Afterlife of Violence is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

How does being a refugee change people’s sense of who you are and where you belong? How do you cope with adapting to a new country and a new home?

Refugee Wales aims to give voice and space to refugees to articulate their changing experience of war, flight and integration into a new society, recording the experience of two groups of refugees living in Wales today: Sri Lankan Tamils who have lived and worked here for three generations and refugees from war-torn Syria now making Wales their home.

The project nuances trauma and rebalances memory studies with a fresh focus on neglected non-Western subjects. Its findings will contribute to better public understanding, with a vital focus on informing policymaking and practice affecting refugee experience in Wales and the UK as a whole.

Refugee Wales examines  the process of belonging by collecting oral history narratives from arrival as a refugee to becoming a citizen and finally British over generations. Sensitively curated, each refugee narrative will live on within The Story of Wales, the sound archives of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, helping to document life in Wales in all its diversity for future generations.

Its data archive will also offer policy makers, third-sector workers, teachers and researchers a rich resource of the subjective experience of refugees in 21st century Wales. Key findings will be highlighted in a series of journal articles and detailed in books with major publishers.

Research method

Using in-depth life story interviews, participatory workshops and textual analysis, Refugee Wales examines memories of war, flight, asylum-seeking and settlement in Wales, looking at how these remembered experiences affect integration. It will collect, compare and contrast voices from the existing Sri Lankan Tamil and new Syrian communities in Wales to outline the path from refugee to citizen.

Far-reaching social and cultural impact

This far-sighted project explores how oral history might intersect with trauma and memory methodologies to enable traumatised interviewees to develop a sense of agency.

Refugees themselves will be empowered to tell their own stories, with schools, government agencies and third sector organisations benefiting from the insight of lived experience thanks to a range of original creative projects facilitated by our dynamic creative industries.

Rooted in Wales, Refugee Wales’ ambition is to reach far beyond this Nation of Sanctuary. Seeking lasting cultural and social impact, it will provide a new research model in active joint participation with refugee communities, while specifically addressing inclusivity and diversity of public museum programming and collections.

Associated staff

Professor Radhika Mohanram

Professor Radhika Mohanram

Professor, English and Critical and Cultural Theory

+44 (0)29 2087 6151