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About Us

Documenting the Middle East: About the Course

Documenting the Middle East is a Freshmen Focus seminar. The class studies film, writing, photography, oral history, and other approaches to the documentary record of the greater Middle East. The class examines a variety of documentary case studies, among them the Algerian revolution, the Iranian revolution, the Arab Spring in Cairo, the 2003 invasion of Iraq, pilgrimage in Karbala, and war in Lebanon. Students also carry out a documentary audio project.

Documenting Palestine: About the Course

Documenting Palestine is a Freshmen Focus seminar. The class studies the documentary record of Palestine in photography, film, and oral history, beginning with studio photography of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and concluding with recent community-based, experimental, and student documentary production. How do communities in diaspora document themselves, and what is the role of social media in documentary research? Students also carry out a documentary audio project.

Refugee Lives: About the Course

Refugee Lives is an interactive learning course that allows students with a diverse range of academic and extracurricular backgrounds to connect with and understand aspects of the life of a refugee. Over the past four years, students have conducted oral history interviews with refugees all over the world and in the Durham community. To complement their interpersonal interactions with the refugees, students engage with readings, films, and guest lecturers to understand many complex aspects of asylum-seekers, displaced persons, and refugees who are forced to uproot their lives.  Students carry out interviews in order to tell stories so often left untold.

The 1951 Refugee Convention spells out that a refugee is someone who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”

Amnesty International describes a refugee as a person who fled from their own country due to human rights abuses that they have suffered there because of who they are or what they believe in, and whose own government cannot or will not protect them. As a result, they have been forced to seek international protection. Refugee rights include:

  • protection from being forcibly returned to a country where they would be at risk of persecution.
  • protection from discrimination
  • protection from penalties for illegal entry
  • the right to work, housing and education
  • the right to freedom of movement
  • the right to identity and travel documents

According to Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has “the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”

About Refugees in Durham and around the world

Click here for an interview with Adam Clark, of World Relief of Durham