I have the great honour and pleasure in announcing that I have been working with UNRWA to help launch their unique visual archive on the history of the Palestinian refugees since 1948. The site was launched yesterday after a great deal of hard work from teams on either side of the Atlantic. If you want to have a look at the archive please visit the UNRWA home page for the link.
The following extract is taken from the UNRWA home page for the Archive Collection;
UNRWA PHOTO AND FILM ARCHIVE FOR PALESTINE REFUGEES
“Collective memory is a vital element of communal identity, and this rich archive documents one element of Palestinian identity: the refugee experience. Digitization was our only option for preservation and I am grateful to the Welfare Association, Bank of Palestine, PADICO, Wataniya and PalTel, as well as to the Governments of France and Denmark, for making this possible.” – Filippo Grandi, UNRWA Commissioner-General.
Ever since it was established, UNRWA has recorded all aspects of the life and history of Palestine refugees through film and photography. This has led to a rich audiovisual archive, containing more than 430,000 negatives, 10,000 prints, 85,000 slides, 75 films and 730 videocassettes. In 2009, the UNRWA Archive was inscribed by UNESCO in the Memory of The World list, recognizing its historical value. Digitizing the archive not only rescues and preserves all the material, but also makes it easier to categorize and disseminate, giving new life to this historical resource.
The archive consists of images and films taken by UNRWA photographers (and their predecessors) throughout the tumultuous second half of the twentieth century and start of the twenty-first. It includes iconic images of Palestinians having to leave their homes, in 1948; the establishment of refugee camps, in the 1950s; the second flight, in 1967; the hostilities in Lebanon; and the unrest from the second half of the 1980s to the early twenty-first century. The lives of Palestine refugees are central to the archive, often in the context of UNRWA work, but its portraits of important public figures and scenes of turbulent political events serve as a reminder of the troubled context that has become part of the community’s collective memory over the past six decades.