Filed under: Senior Project | Tags: anthropology, photography, Senior Project, writing
Michael Keller, Watson Fellow, presents images and a book of refugee experience in the US
To celebrate the publication of his book, “Streets, Boundaries, and Other Places: Stories of Asylum,” College of the Atlantic senior Michael Keller is presenting an exhibit of photographs and narratives of refugees resettled by the International Rescue Committee in Charlottesville, VA.
“Too dangerous to go back” was the phrase many used to describe the nations that these people left, says Keller of his encounters with refugees in Virginia. His photographs and stories, he says, “show the resilience of refugees in starting over, in starting new lives.” The photographs depict resettled individuals from Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Myanmar, China, Afghanistan, Togo, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Somalia.
Keller’s connection to refugees began on the soccer fields of the Charlottesville public schools. It continued through a 2007 Kathryn W. Davis Projects for Peace award, during which most of the exhibition photos were taken. At that time, Keller documented the experiences, hopes and dreams of mothers, fathers, students, political activists, gardeners, soccer players and entrepreneurs who have joined the Charlottesville community. His work continued through a Humanity in Action Fellowship in New York and Berlin. Come July, Keller will return to Europe to further his connection with refugees, funded by a Watson Foundation fellowship, one of 40 extraordinary college graduates nationwide chosen for a year of international exploration.
While Keller’s senior project is a collection of nine short stories based on narratives of resettled refugees that he has come to know, the exhibit is composed of the photographs and actual stories of refugees such as this one: “We couldn’t stay in Croatia because my dad was a Serb. My mom was Croatian. …There were people who didn’t care much about religion until the war started. …Then I had to move all of the time because my parents are of different religions. What is crazy is, it’s not really a big part of my life–religion. … It’s funny how it’s not that big a part of my life, but it’s affected my life to the core—everything. When war starts, religion just soars. The churches are full. The patriotic people are out on the street.”
1 Comment so far
Leave a comment