Disruptive life events, devastating experiences of loss and harm, and human rights violations often urge to narrate and share these experiences. Yet, because of their painful and overwhelming nature, they can simultaneously hinder expression and communication in (exclusively) spoken or written language.

In Shatila, a refugee camp in the South of Beirut, the language of embroidery has been present since it was established in 1949 to host Palestinian refugees. Embroidery is a day-to-day gendered activity rooted in the region’s rich textile tradition. When the war in neighboring Syria sparked an influx of new refugees into the camp, embroidery practices increased to generate an income, to foster a new social network, to cope with trauma, and to tell stories about lived experiences.

The book ‘Migrating Heritage’ stems from the artistic research project of Sofie Verclyte about embroidery’s narrative function. It features individual embroidered stories of Syrian women living in Shatila, co-created embroidered collages, and photographs taken by photographer Aaron Lapeirre that visualize the (making) context.

Sofie Verclyte is a designer-researcher at the HOGENT School of Arts and the Human Rights Centre. By building on insights from the field of design- and legal anthropology, she explores artistic practices as a narrative in the context of conflict and displacement, particularly the unique role of embroidery practices as a means of storytelling in the domain of justice. 

The artists part of the project are Syrian women forcibly displaced to Shatila. Their works recount experiences of harm and loss while imagining a more just future. 

Aaron Lapeirre is a freelance documentary and portrait photographer. In his work, he captures the everyday life of people, places, and objects in a specific environment. He has a master’s in photography and was involved in several artistic and societal projects. Examples of his documentaries are ‘Township Surfers,’ ‘Draining the Well of Young Dreams,’ JIWI Forest, and Wicket. His work has been published in magazines such as National Geographic, De Morgen Magazine and Knack.

16,5 × 23,5 cm, 240 p, ills. colour, open binding
published by Art Paper Editions
2023, EN / AR
ISBN 9789464770896
27 euro