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Child Migrant Stories

A website which captures the experiences of child migrants who came to East London from 1930 to the present day, featuring stories and videos developed in collaboration with those whose stories they tell.

  • School/Institute/Department: School of Geography, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Subjects: Migration, Exhibitions, Storytelling, Media
  • Audience: General Public

Child Migrant Stories – Voices Past and Present is a  website which captures the experiences of child migrants who came to East London (Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Newham) from 1930 to the present day. It includes introductory video and stories drawn from oral history interviews, photographs, drawing activities and walking tours with over 36 people aged between 5 and 99 from Turkey, Cyprus, India, Pakistan, East Pakistan, Bangladesh, Jamaica, Antigua, Somalia, Yemen, Rwanda, Guinea, Nigeria, Congo, Vietnam, Brazil, El Salvador, Poland, Italy (of Bangladeshi origin) and Southern Ireland (of Latvian/Lithuanian origin).  

The website and future films are being developed in collaboration with child migrants, some of whom are artists, musicians, poets, storytellers and film makers. The Child Migrant Blog, with guest posts, will explore the wider context of child migration including the present crisis. Child migrants, past and present from anywhere in the world, can contribute through the Tell Your Story section.  People can engage with the project through social media, with regular tweets featuring clips from the films and weekly Spotlight Stories.

The project draws on a Collaborative Doctoral Award funded by the AHRC between the School of Geography, QMUL and V&A Museum of Childhood. Children, Migration and Diaspora looks at what factors affect the migration to, and settlement in, East London from 1930 to the present day, how the migration experience affects their adult lives and how these should be communicated in museums and galleries to promote a sense of belonging, inclusiveness and social cohesion. 

The films, besides being available on line, will be shown in a variety of venues – at refugee and community organisations, film and community festivals alongside talks, workshops and other participative events. They are available for downloading and have subtitles. The website invites museums and galleries, in particular, to use the material within galleries, exhibitions and public events.

The oral histories, images and artwork with be archived at the V&A Museum of Childhood as well as the films. The website will eventually be archived by the Centre for the Study of Childhood Culture, a collaboration between QMUL and the V&A Museum of Childhood.

The Child Migrant Stories – Voices Past and Present is now live, you can follow the project through social media, on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Soundcloud and HistoryPin. You can also read more information regarding the context of the project on Eithne Nightingale's blog under the Museums and Migration categories.

The research forming this project is funded by an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award, one of three in The Child in the World research programme between QMUL and V&A. It was also awarded funding by the Centre for Public Engagement through the Large Awards Round.

(Image: Children of the East End. Tower Hamlets Local History and Archives (top left) of children in Brick Lane 1960s. Other images by Eithne Nightingale circa 2003.)

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