We Are Here, Because You Were There (Refugee Week 2022 event)

Activity: Talk or presentationPublic lecture


Get a glimpse of the experiences of Afghan former interpreters working for the British Army who have recently been resettled to the UK. Their presence in Britain reflects the structural and lasting impact of Britain’s military intervention and migration policies.

How does it feel when you are an Afghan whose life has been entangled with British politics to still be regarded as a stranger in the UK? What are our moral obligations towards those who worked alongside us?

The event offers reflections by Afghan interpreters themselves, a veteran, a photographer and an academic expert, and is an invitation to engage with the people behind last summer's media headlines of the fall of Afghanistan.

Throughout the talk, you can also view artwork created as part of a collaboration between portrait photographer Andy Barnham and researcher Dr Sara de Jong, who document the experiences of Afghan interpreters through photography portraiture and in-depth interviews.

The portraits have been taken and edited in a manner to help anonymise the newly arrived Afghan interpreters who have been at risk and who have family in Afghanistan still under threat.

The individual portraits presented are a composite of up to a dozen frames which have each been completely blurred or pixelated and then merged to present a final portrait.

This process can also be seen as inflicting trauma on the portraits, in acknowledgment of events experienced when serving with the British Army and other NATO forces and escaping Afghanistan.

The portraits are combined with quotes from the photographed Afghan interpreters, capturing their motivations, fears, losses and hopes.
Period26 Jun 2022
Held atSouthbank Centre, London, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionNational