Refugees and asylum seekers are the focus of a photo exhibition and panel discussion at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.On Wednesday, March 21, a panel discussion on refugee issues will take place from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in Room 153 of Sanford’s Rubenstein Hall.
Concurrently, photographer Rhonda Klevansky’s “Fragments from Another Life,” a series of 44 black-and-white portraits of refugee immigrants from conflict-ridden countries, will be on display in Rubenstein Hall through August.
The panel discussion, which will be followed by a reception, is free and open to the public.
Panelists include Klevansky, Thupten Norbu, a Duke graduate student and Tibetan refugee, and Margaret Hu, a visiting assistant professor of Duke Law School. Hu specializes in immigration policy, national security and civil rights. Formerly she was special policy counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice, where her legal team enforced anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
In “Fragments from Another Life,” Klevansky, a South African photographer, writer and documentary filmmaker, illustrates the plight of political asylum seekers.
“I initiated a photo essay in Great Britain with the idea that the work could augment the understanding of refugees and asylum seekers, and counter disparaging perceptions of immigrants often created by newspaper headlines,” Klevansky said.
Klevansky’s portraits, taken between 2000 and 2002, feature refugees holding personal items from their home countries, such as vases, books of poetry and music boxes to traditional clothing.
The photographs include handwritten annotations detailing the subject’s personal connection to the items. These notes, sketches and poems convey the writer’s sense of hope, despair or longing and bring a deeper level of intimacy to the photographs.
Klevansky is a South African photographer, writer and documentary filmmaker whose work has been has been exhibited in the United States, Great Britain, South Africa and Chile. She contributes photographs to Getty Images and the Nature Picture Library, has created various documentary films, and written numerous magazine articles and a non-fiction children’s book. Klevansky has also worked for broadcasters including the BBC, the South African Broadcasting Corp., Television New Zealand and Discovery Channel.
The exhibit is sponsored by the Sanford School of Public Policy and co-sponsored by Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies. Normal viewing hours are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.