This podcast forms part of the ‘Moving People’ feature, which explores the ways in which people on the move are labelled, remembered, and constrained. The series offers a historical understanding of present-day structures of asylum and immigration.

How can historians best document, preserve, and make accessible the voices and artifacts of refugee and migration experience? What kinds of materials would such a collection involve? How can archives respond, ethically and practically, to the challenge of conserving materials from under-represented communities whose lives remain so politicized and whose experiences raise such thorny issues of nationalism, immigration, identity and belonging? In this episode of the History Workshop podcast, Ria Kapoor speaks to four historians and archivists who are grappling with those questions: Paul Dudman; Heather Faulkner; Mezna Qato, and Peter Gatrell.

Doctor with interpreter prescribing for refugees, 1917-18. Wikimedia Commons

Paul and Peter suggest the following readings for anyone interested in learning more:

Dudman, Paul V. (2019). `Oral History and Collective Memory: Documenting Refugee Voices and the Challenges of Archival Representation.’ Atlanti +, 29(2), pp. 33-43. Maribor: The International Institute for Archival Science of Trieste and Maribor. Available at:

Dudman, Paul V and Hashem, Rumana (2018). `Supporting Asylum Seekers and Refugees for Two Decades: Initiatives by the University of East London and Refugee Council Archive’, Refugee History. Available at:

Dudman, Paul V. (2017). `Digital Archives of Refugee History: Resources, Challenges and Opportunities’, Refugee History. Available at:

Hashem, Rumana and Dudman, Paul V. (2016) ‘Paradoxical narratives of transcultural encounters of the “other”: Civic engagement with refugees and migrants in London’, Transnational Social Review, 6(1-2), pp. 192-199. doi:  10.1080/21931674.2016.1186376

“BLM and the Berlin Wall”, available at – some reflections on Cold War divisions, the idea of ‘freedom’ and the persisting rifts in US society, specifically racial discrimination

“What Defines an Archive? Ask a Jewel Thief”, available at – can it be that difficult to track down a war criminal?

“Cold War Archives in the Third World”, available at – where do we go to find out about the Cold War? Not necessarily Moscow and Washington …

“Why Are Countless Palestinian Photos and Films Buried in Israeli Archives?”, available at – material seized by Israeli forces in Lebanon in 1982

Nick Underwood, ‘Following the Archives: Migrating Documents and their Changing Meanings’, available at

David Anderson, ‘Guilty secrets: deceit, denial, and the discovery of Kenya’s ‘migrated archive”, History Workshop Journal, 80, no. 1 (2015), 142-60

Jean Allman, ‘Phantoms of the archive: Kwame Nkrumah, a Nazi pilot named Hanna, and the contingencies of postcolonial history writing’, American Historical Review, 118, no. 1 (2013), 104-29.


*Correction to the podcast: Heather Faulkner is responsible not for the “UNHCR Records and Access team”, but for the Research and Access team within the Records and Archives Section of UNHCR.


Paul V. Dudman (@PaulVDudmanis the Archivist at the University of East London (UEL) working with the Refugee Council Archive and related collections. Paul is the Editor for the journal Displaced Voices: A Journal of Archives, Migration and Cultural Heritage and is a co-convenor of the IASFM Working Group on the History of Forced Migration and Refugees: An International Working Group for Archiving and Documentation.


Heather Faulkner is Senior Archivist at UNHCR, facilitating research and access to UNHCR’s archives regarding the UN’s history of protecting people forced to flee. Prior to joining UNHCR, she worked in a number of humanitarian archives including the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, The Special Court for Sierra Leone and Amnesty International


Peter Gatrell will shortly retire from the University of Manchester after having taught in the Department of History for 45 years. He also helped establish the interdisciplinary Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute. In addition to books on Russian economic and social history, his publications include a trilogy on refugee history: A Whole Empire Walking: Refugees in Russia during World War 1 (1999); Free World? The Campaign to Save the World’s Refugees, 1956-1963 (2011); and The Making of the Modern Refugee (2013). His latest book, The Unsettling of Europe: the Great Migration, 1945 to the Present, a new history of Europe seen through the lens of migration, appeared with Penguin Books and Basic Books in August 2019 (paperback, 2021). In 2021 it was awarded the Laura Shannon Prize for “the best book in European studies that transcends a focus on any one country, state, or people to stimulate new ways of thinking about contemporary Europe as a whole”, and the “Premio Cherasco” for the best History book published in Italy in 2020. Peter is a Fellow of the British Academy, a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He is Principal Investigator on the AHRC-funded collaborative research project, “Reckoning with refugeedom: refugee voices in modern history, 1919-1975”. twitter @PeterGatrell

Mezna Qato is an historian of the modern Middle East, and in particular of migration, development, and social histories of Palestinian refugee and exile communities. She was previously a Spencer Fellow at the National Academy of Education, and Junior Research Fellow at King’s College, Cambridge. She is currently completing a book on the history of education for Palestinians.  Her research and teaching interests centre on histories and theories of social, economic and political transformation amongst refugee and stateless communities, the politics and practice of archives, and global micro-histories of movements and collectivities in the Middle East.





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