Unsettled Lives documents the history of Iraqi migration to metro Detroit in the wake of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Attracted by Dearborn’s many Arabic speakers, mosques, and service organizations, as well as the affordable housing of Detroit, roughly 10,000 Iraqis have settled in Wayne County since the 1990s. Many of the Iraqis interviewed spent the years immediately following the war in the large refugee camp in Rafha, Saudi Arabia, which was set up in the aftermath of the failed uprising against Saddam Hussein. The bonds their families built in Rafha, and in other refugee centers in Syria, Jordan, and Iran, were renewed in Detroit as families slowly came together again in this new environment.
The photographs presented within this exhibit showcase Iraqi refugees who have created a new life for their families and themselves within both Dearborn and Detroit. These photographs illustrate the perseverance and emotion they carry within their new lives in American. Photographs are captioned with comments made by interviewees during their oral histories demonstrating either a shift in their understanding of self and community or the advice that they addressed to newly arrived refugees from Syria and Yemen.
Unsettled Lives includes an introduction panel exploring the significance of Iraqi refugee's background and impact within the Metro Detroit area. Also included is a timeline exploring the growth of Shi`i religious institutions and Iraqi businesses located, for the most part, in the Warrendale neighborhood of Detroit. With this project, the creators of this exhibit hope that viewers see incoming refugees as neighbors, and not people to fear.
For more information about Unsettled Lives visit here.