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Salvaging Memories and (Re-) Connecting with Communities: Reflections on Tate Lives as a Participatory Oral History Project in North Woolwich and Silvertown, East London

Old photograph of Tate & Lyle sugar factory in East London
Tuesday, November 17, 2020, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Our next Research Seminar is coming up this Tuesday. Archivist at the University of East London Paul V. Dudman will give a talk titled "Salvaging Memories and (Re-) Connecting with Communities: Reflections on Tate Lives as a Participatory Oral History Project in North Woolwich and Silvertown, East London".


he University of East London: Archives has been at the forefront of undertaking community-focused civic engagement and outreach projects enabling greater accessibility to our diverse archival collections including the British Olympic Association Archive; the Hackney Empire Theatre Archive; Refugee Council Archive; and collections on local East London history.

This talk will focus on one particular case study example: the `Tate Lives’ project which documented the community histories of North Woolwich and Silvertown, also known as the Royal Docks, which are situated adjacent to the UEL Docklands Campus. This area of East London has experienced a mixed cultural history over the past century. Issues of decline, regeneration and immigration combined with the policies and interventions of local government in the region have subsequently contributed to growing community isolation and a loss of community spirit, contributing to a decline of sense of community and neighbourhood in these areas.
It will outline the remit of the project and consider the ethical and practical considerations involved in undertaking civic engagement and outreach activities with local communities in East London, and the potential benefits that this can bring to the University Archive. It will consider the ethical challenges of undertaking bottom-up oral history methodologies with local communities and the opportunities this also presents for internal collaboration with the University space.

The paper will conclude with a discussion on how this type of participatory community oral history projects can help raise the profile of the Archive and help generate interest in both participatory methods of community engagement and highlighting the importance of the Archive as a resource for preserving community history and identity during times of uncertainty and change.


Paul Dudman is the Archivist at the University of East London responsible for the Refugee Council Archive and related migration and refugee related collections. Paul has an active interest in research and practice in how archives can be used to help document, preserve and make accessible narratives of the refugee and migrant experience. Paul is actively involved in civic engagement and outreach projects including a Mental Health and Wellbeing portal for refugees and mental health professionals; supporting educational projects with the UEL OLIve course and the creation of the Living Refugee Archive and oral history project.

Externally, Paul is the Editor of the new online journal Displaced Voices: A Journal of Archives, Migration and Cultural Heritage. Paul is also Co-convenor of the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM) Working Group on the History of Forced Migration and Refugees: An International Working Group for Archiving and Documentation; Lead Convenor of the Oral History Society Migration Special Interest Group; and Co-convenor of the British Sociological Association Diaspora, Migration & Transnationalism Study Group. Paul is also the Programme Affairs and Innovation Officer for the IASFM Executive Committee.

If you are interested, please request Zoom access information from Tijana Rupcic: