Displaces – Calais and beyond

 Above photograph appears courtesy of Gideon Mendel. All other photos and text appear courtesy of the photographers and Mendel.

Many thanks to Samina Rana for the ‘Displaces’ project title


UEL-Stratford Circus, site of the OLIve Displaces photo workshops


Displaces  is a project tutored by Gideon Mendel and Crispin Hughes, and supported by the Centre for Narrative Research at UEL, with ongoing help from Natalie Ludvigsen and Marie Godin. It features the images and writing of  ‘Jungle’ camp residents, and later, photo-workshop attenders at the OLIve weekend course at UEL.

Displaces in Calais

In the initial steps of the ‘Displaces’ project, part of the ‘University for all’ initiative and of UEL’s Life Stories courses at Calais, supported by UEL’s Impact Fund grant to the Centre for Narrative Research for ‘multimodal narratives’ work, and by Psychosocial Studies teaching development funds, photographers Gideon Mendel and Crispin Hughes worked with residents of the Calais refugee camp to create visual records of their lives, particularly their lives in the camp, from their own point of view.

Many participants used their photographic work as the basis for written assignments for the Life Stories course. The photos and written pieces also formed the basis for many contributions to the ‘Voices from the ‘Jungle” coauthored book published by Pluto Press in 2017 (See the University for All – Life Stories page).

This work was exhibited in various fora during 2016, including at UEL’s Civic Engagement Eestival, at the Barbican, in the East End Film Festival, at the annual Oral History Society conference and at Refugee Tales opening forum.  The work was also shown during many events surrounding the launch of ‘Voices from the ‘Jungle” in 2017.

Here is a selection of work from the Displaces Calais -Starting Out project, all made by camp resident photographers: Displaces – starting out (pdf) Displaces – starting out (powerpoint) …and here is a selection from the pilot and the later more extensive workshops: Displaces examples2

Displaces in London

In the second phase of the Displaces project, during UEL’s OLIve weekend open learning course for people from refugee backgrounds, starting in spring 2017, Crispin Hughes has continued giving photo workshops, which have led to a new body of photographic work on living in London ‘Beautiful swarm’, from workshop participants. This work has also led a number of participants to produce ‘Life Stories’ short course assignments. The work will be exhibited in autumn 2017. The Displaces blog showcases much of this material: Displaces  – images and writing from the OLIve photo workshops.

We have included some of the Calais ‘Displaces – starting out’ images and writing below.

Habibi 2-13

Habibi, from Afghanistan: When it’s raining, the Jungle is full of water.  All the roads are like a river. 


Arash 2-7

Ahmad, from Iran: This is my tent; these are my friends. Life always has its ups and downs. At the moment, it is down, but it will get better.


Guli 2-20

Guli, from Darfur, Sudan: This is our ‘stadium’. The Jungle is for animals. We are not animals, but we are living like animals.


Majid 1-35

Mani, from Iran: This is an alley in the Jungle. I saw some Afghans around the fire. One of them is my neighbour. The Sudanian man, I forget his name. He is my neighbour, with the phone. I just asked if I could take a picture. He is maybe watching television. It is very cold. And at this time, we haven’t got anything to do. A lot of people in the Jungle make a fire; sitting around the fire, it is great to tell something together.  We all speak different languages. It is amazing how people make connections together, with English.

Saieed 3-52

Saieed, from Afghanistan: That’s the fence. We have fences surrounding us, and on top of the fences and all around us, cameras. Sometimes some of us go, there’s a train, we try to enter it, if we can. We say, if there is a ‘chance’. If police arrest us they will send us to a detention centre and maybe deport us to Afghanistan or another country. It’s so dangerous for us.