A digital archive of oral histories about LGBTIQ forced displacement
The project in brief
The Australian National University
Started 2019. The archive will be completed in 2021 (launched) but will be a live website to be populated on the ongoing basis.
LGBTIQ persons in forced displacements are often marginalised due to their sexuality and gender identity. Their experiences are often excluded from mainstream refugee narratives that results in the lack of first-hand information about these experiences, lack of understanding from the host communities and in the mental health impacts of marginalisation and isolation.
A digital archive of oral histories of LGBTIQ forced displacement will collect, preserve and present stories of LGBTIQ persons who were forcibly displaced as well as those who did not take regular migration pathways. The intersection of gender, sexual orientation and experiences of forced displacement are not being currently collected in archives or museums.
Oral histories will provide opportunities for host communities to learn more about the plight of LGBTIQ refugees as well as explore complementarity questions between migration and asylum pathways. While this project is undertaken from Australia it will collect oral histories from around the world. Upon completion the archive will be launched through an exhibition to directly engage host communities in the dialogue about the challenges of LGBTIQ forced displacement.
This digital archive has a capacity to enhance an understanding of the plight of refugees through the age, gender and diversity lens. Special attention will be also paid to collecting oral histories of less represented experiences of forced displacement within the LGBTIQ umbrella, such as transgender people.
This archive is innovative and makes a contribution towards the plight of LGBTIQ forced displacement through engaging non-traditional actors such as archives and museums in building social cohesion between refugees and host communities.
The archive meets the Global Compact on Refugees objectives of easing the pressure on host communities, enhancing refugee self-reliance and expanding access to third-country solutions.
These objectives are met in the following way:
- Host communities are provided with more information about the specific protection needs of and solutions for LGBTIQ refugees and asylum seekers.
- Enhanced knowledge about the plight of LGBTIQ refugees and asylum seekers facilitates an access to durable solutions, including making a case for resettlement, local integration or complementary pathways.
- LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees are offered meaningful participation and opportunities to share their experiences with host communities.
- Preserve oral histories of LGBTIQ forced migration that is often excluded from refugee narratives.
- Offer opportunities for dialogue between LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees and host communities.
- Offer opportunities for further research of the phenomenon of LGBTIQ forced displacement.
This project involves material and financial resources such as costs of web servers to host the archive and expenses associated with the collection of oral histories.
The Australian National University
Challenges and how they were overcome
Access to LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees is a challenge. Another challenge is willingness of LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees to share their experiences for the open access archive.
Both challenges are overcome through a rigorous ethical process of engagement with LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees, providing them with multiple options to share their experiences (video, audio and audio with voice distortion) and ensuring their safety at all stages of work.
Results of the Good Practice
- Enhanced understanding of the plight of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) refugees through collection and sharing oral histories about their experiences of forced displacement.
- Opportunities for meaningful participation are provided for LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees through their participation in the collection of oral histories.
- Host communities including policy makers and researchers are better informed about specific protection needs of and solutions for LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees.
Next steps involve further data collection and launching of the archive.
Renee Dixson, PhD Candidate, the Australian National University