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Eastern Europeans in Bristol invited to share memories of life under socialism

Press release issued: 8 March 2012

Researchers at the University of Bristol are looking for people originally from Eastern European countries who currently live in and around Bristol to participate in a research project in which they will be asked to share their memories of living under socialism.

The East Meets West project aims to bring together eyewitnesses to different forms of state socialism and generate broader understanding of this aspect of European history amongst the local community.

The research, which is being conducted by Dr Debbie Pinfold and Claire Hyland from the University’s School of Modern Languages, will also reveal how UK migrants from Eastern European countries believe their experiences have influenced their integration into British society. 

The project provides the opportunity for those from Eastern European countries living in and around Bristol to meet and share their stories. The participants will be invited to a series of social events which will be held between March and June 2012. These will include public discussion forums, film showings and exhibitions of memorabilia.

Photos and video clips from the events, as well as individuals’ ‘memory stories’ will be posted on to the project’s interactive web forum. This will be an invaluable resource for the participants to share their views and memories, as well as for members of the wider public wishing to learn more about living in Eastern Europe before 1989.

The findings of the project will also be used to deliver workshops promoting multicultural public awareness in local schools and colleges, and will form the basis of a public exhibition which will be held in Bristol at the beginning of the summer. It is hoped that such events will tackle some of the stereotypes which commonly determine opinions about Eastern European communities, and provide a platform for members of these groups to have their voices heard.

Dr Debbie Pinfold said: “It’s great to be able to offer people from Eastern Europe the chance to have their own voices heard.  This is particularly important because research suggests that many of these people feel that their  everyday experience of life under socialism isn’t really taken into account by formal remembering processes.”

Claire Hyland added: “By running workshops with local schools and colleges and an exhibition at the M-Shed, we are aiming to increase knowledge of these groups in the local community.  Given the large numbers of migrants from Eastern European countries to the UK in recent years, this knowledge is an important feature of multicultural public awareness.”

East Meets West Bristol

Further information

Please contact East Meets West project for further information.