Table of Con­tents | Arti­cle doi: 10.17742/IMAGE.TP.13.2.9 | PDF

Guid­ed Into a World Unknown
Shirley van der Maarel

Guided Into a World Unknown: Reflections on the Making of a Visual Essay With Refugees

Shirley van der Maarel
The con­stant pres­ence of refugees in the media has con­struct­ed its own real­i­ty, at the expense of lived real­i­ty. Any work con­cerned with refugees’ lived expe­ri­ence will need to find ways to encour­age peo­ple to see beyond this dis­course. Based on research with refugees placed in depop­u­lat­ing vil­lages in Italy, this arti­cle fol­lows the process of col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly cre­at­ing a visu­al essay that reflects the lived real­i­ty of refugee par­tic­i­pants. The essay’s aim is to let read­ers share in an expe­ri­ence, rather than mere­ly doc­u­ment­ing that of oth­ers. This arti­cle reflects on efforts to achieve this through exper­i­ment­ing with the essay’s form, poet­ics and aes­thet­ics. In doing so, the arti­cle dis­cuss­es an alter­na­tive way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing research and pre­sent­ing a visu­al essay.
La présence con­stante des réfugiés dans les médias a con­stru­it sa pro­pre réal­ité, aux dépens de la réal­ité vécue. Tout tra­vail visant à par­ler de l’expérience vécue par des réfugiés devra donc trou­ver les moyens d’encourager les gens à voir au-delà de ce dis­cours. S’appuyant sur les recherch­es menées par­mi des réfugiés placés dans des vil­lages aban­don­nés d’Italie, cet arti­cle suit le proces­sus de créa­tion col­lab­o­ra­tive d’un essai visuel qui reflète la réal­ité vécue des réfugiés ayant par­ticipé à cette recherche. Le but de l’essai est de per­me­t­tre aux lecteurs de de partager une expéri­ence, plutôt que de sim­ple­ment doc­u­menter celle des autres. Cet arti­cle rend compte des efforts déployés pour y par­venir en expéri­men­tant la forme, la poé­tique et l'esthétique de l'essai. Ce faisant, l’article dis­cute d’un moyen alter­natif de com­mu­ni­quer les résul­tats d’une recherche et de présen­ter un essai visuel.

The con­stant pres­ence of refugees in the media has shaped how peo­ple see, think, and talk about refugees. This pub­lic dis­course is not ground­ed in refugees’ expe­ri­ences, but in (polit­i­cal) inter­ests that con­struct their own politi­cized and medi­a­tized real­i­ty, at the expense of any actu­al or lived real­i­ty (Ström­bäck 239; Krzyzanows­ki et al. 6). This is what I was con­front­ed with in con­duct­ing and com­mu­ni­cat­ing research with refugees placed in Italy’s depop­u­lat­ing vil­lages. Inter­est­ed in how refugees cre­ate a home in a place oth­ers choose to aban­don, I spent three months with pri­mar­i­ly young African refugee men1 in four dif­fer­ent vil­lages in Valle di Comi­no, a val­ley between Rome and Naples.2 In com­mu­ni­cat­ing research find­ings, I strug­gled find­ing the words that would encour­age oth­ers to see beyond medi­a­tized real­i­ties; not just to agree, dis­agree, or nuance the pub­lic dis­course on refugees, but to have a dif­fer­ent con­ver­sa­tion altogether.

In response, I worked with research par­tic­i­pants to cre­ate a visu­al essay. The project became both a method of con­duct­ing research (van der Maarel) as well as a way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing the research. This arti­cle dis­cuss­es the lat­ter, by con­sid­er­ing the mul­ti­modal use of pho­tos, videos, audio and draw­ings to offer glimpses into lived real­i­ties, and reflect­ing on how play­ing with the essay’s design can evoke expe­ri­ences rather than mere­ly describe them. 

The essay’s for­mat was inspired by the Sub­jec­tive Atlas series.3 Where a stan­dard atlas takes a bird’s eye per­spec­tive, the sub­jec­tive atlas tries to grasp what it means to be in an area from the diver­si­ty of human per­spec­tive. Rather than place being pre­de­fined, it turns it into a ques­tion. The research par­tic­i­pants might be geo­graph­i­cal­ly liv­ing in Valle di Comi­no, but what real­ly sur­rounds them? What are their phys­i­cal sur­round­ings, but also what sur­rounds them social­ly, emo­tion­al­ly, vir­tu­al­ly, and what thoughts, mem­o­ries, sto­ries, con­cerns, and ques­tions sur­round them? Based on con­ver­sa­tions and obser­va­tions, dif­fer­ent pages were cre­at­ed, each explor­ing one aspect of their surroundings.

As we made the mate­ri­als for the visu­al essay, and as I put them togeth­er on a page, what slow­ly emerged was a world. Though liv­ing in the same geo­graph­i­cal loca­tion, the lack of inter­ac­tion with Ital­ians and in Ital­ian dai­ly life meant that refugees did not share in the world that Ital­ian res­i­dents inhab­it­ed.4 Rather than only describ­ing, doc­u­ment­ing, or offer­ing evi­dence of lived expe­ri­ence, the essay exper­i­ments with form, poet­ics, and aes­thet­ics to evoke mean­ings that let read­ers briefly share in an expe­ri­ence (Pauwels 2). To share an expe­ri­ence, is not to have the same expe­ri­ence. The clos­est one can get is to share in the same space (Irv­ing 98-99). When Andrew Irv­ing (100) is “walk­ing field­work” he takes the rhythm of his walk­ing part­ner and thus shares a tem­po­ral space. Anni­ka Lems (43-46) used life sto­ry inter­views to enter a nar­ra­tive space, and Steven Feld (464) used audio record­ings to share in the Kaluli’s son­ic space. 

In a sim­i­lar man­ner, the visu­al essay was con­cep­tu­al­ized as a guide; a way for read­ers to be guid­ed into a world shared with research par­tic­i­pants. This is rem­i­nis­cent of Trinh T Minh-ha’s “speak­ing near­by” (Chen). The near­by implies close­ness (being there), but also dis­tance (not being quite there yet). In the visu­al essay, descrip­tions, images, and sto­ries give an under­stand­ing of an every­day life and express research insights (Suther­land), while the use of metaphors, ambi­gu­i­ties, and the pol­y­se­mous nature of images and video (Barthes 38), are always point­ing beyond these sto­ries. By defy­ing clo­sure, the work tries to resist tak­ing a defin­i­tive posi­tion in the pub­lic debate on refugees and thus main­tain both the prox­im­i­ty and dis­tance of the near­by. The full visu­al essay is acces­si­ble online via www​.land​-unknown​.eu/​g​u​ide. In what fol­lows I dis­cuss ele­ments from the mak­ing of the essay, to pro­vide an insight in the way it recre­ates a world and guides read­ers into it.

Figure 1: View across Valle di Comino, Italy

How to begin a sto­ry? With the objec­tive of recre­at­ing a world, one start­ing point could be place. Valle di Comi­no is an inland depop­u­lat­ing val­ley sur­round­ed by the Apen­nine moun­tains between Naples and Rome. It is sparse­ly pop­u­lat­ed, and like many oth­er depop­u­lat­ing vil­lages, it is char­ac­ter­ized by a vicious cycle of aban­don­ment where shops and busi­ness­es move away, jobs decrease, old­er peo­ple pass away, and young peo­ple move away. The image above por­trays the sparse­ly pop­u­lat­ed val­ley where the research took place. Start­ing this sto­ry as such, how­ev­er, would make it seem as though place is already defined, locat­ed on a map, and able to be vis­it­ed sim­ply by dri­ving there. Instead, the essay’s inten­tion was to turn place into a ques­tion; to guide read­ers into a world that does not exist geo­graph­i­cal­ly, but that can only be explored by engag­ing with the peo­ple inhab­it­ing it.

Figure 2: Amadou and Koné in the forest

Thus the sto­ry might begin with two of the par­tic­i­pants, Amadou and Koné, try­ing to find their way through a path­less for­est. It is an apt metaphor for the way many of the refugee par­tic­i­pants were nav­i­gat­ing ambigu­ous asy­lum pro­ce­dures (Tuck­ett), incom­pre­hen­si­ble lan­guages, and unknown Ital­ian cus­toms. It how­ev­er gives the impres­sion that this is a sto­ry about a world unknown to refugees, where instead it was meant to be a guide for read­ers to explore a world unknown.

Figure 3: Abandoned building in Villa Latina

Walk­ing through Vil­la Lati­na, one of the vil­lages host­ing refugees, there was a small build­ing with frost­ed win­dows, one of which was bro­ken. Through the win­dow I saw a micro world, with rem­nants of peo­ple and sto­ries, as well as new life reclaim­ing this aban­doned place. This became the cov­er for the visu­al essay. Rather than being a guide to a par­tic­u­lar place or the lives of par­tic­u­lar peo­ple, I invite read­ers with this image to be guid­ed by a curios­i­ty for what is alive in the ruins (Tsing 20–25).

If place is not out­side our bod­ies, but the result of bod­ies dwelling in place (Ahmed 9; Ingold), then pre­sum­ably the best way to explore a place is to be guid­ed by the peo­ple inhab­it­ing it. Tak­ing this lit­er­al­ly, I asked Rana to guide me through his beloved Arpino (watch the video at www​.land​-unknown​.eu/​d​i​s​c​o​v​e​r​-​a​r​p​i​n​o​-​w​i​t​h​-​r​ana). To the cam­era he spon­ta­neous­ly pre­sent­ed him­self as a tour guide. While show­ing the sights, what stands out is how his under­stand­ing of place is always point­ing beyond place; weav­ing his own mem­o­ries and life sto­ries through what he had learned about this place.

Figure 5: Yaya’s favourite place


Pos­ta Fibreno

I was liv­ing in an island in Sene­gal, so there are no cars, in the mid­dle of the sea. When I would wake up, from my bed­room I can see water, the sea. So that’s why when I see the water here, I think I am in my house, or in my vil­lage. The first time I came here was with a group of peo­ple, with lots of dif­fer­ent nation­al­i­ties, and I feel good, I feel com­fort­able and hap­py. To meet peo­ple that are so open and also when you are togeth­er with the oth­er peo­ple, you can­not feel… you can feel bad but at the same time you can feel good things.

Con­tin­u­ing to explore how peo­ple under­stood their phys­i­cal sur­round­ings, I asked par­tic­i­pants to bring me to their favourite places.5 Sim­i­lar to Rana’s Arpino, also Yaya and Koné’s sto­ries show how the mean­ing of place can­not be pre­de­fined, but is instead the prod­uct of expe­ri­ences else­where, in their case express­ing a long­ing for social inter­ac­tions that they missed in their every­day lives.

Figure 6: Koné’s favourite place


Gar­den bar, Atina

Ici en Europe, pour trou­ver les gens, pour échang­er, il faut aller dans les bars. Ici il y a tou­jours du monde. La pre­mière fois j’étais venu ici pour un ami qui voulait faire un trans­fert avec West­ern Union. Ici, tu prends un café, tu trou­ves des amis, c’est amu­sant. Les per­son­nes ici sont trop gen­tilles, ils sont souri­ants avec toi. Ça attire les clients. La pre­mière fois que je suis arrivé, bon… j’ai trou­vé ça genial. Je ne chang­erais rien, ça me plaît comme ça.

Social inter­ac­tions rarely took place between Ital­ians and refugees, who lived large­ly par­al­lel lives in the vil­lages. Explor­ing the gap between these sep­a­rate worlds, I asked the African refugees what they would want to ask Ital­ians. As they wrote and spoke, it seemed that what mat­tered were not the answers to the ques­tions, but the fact that they had these ques­tions at all. Instead of hav­ing Ital­ian res­i­dents answer these ques­tions, I includ­ed them in the essay to reveal the space between Ital­ians and refugees, that par­tic­i­pants were con­front­ed with in every­day life.

Figure 7: What I wanted to ask… (1)

As well as express­ing a gap in under­stand­ing, the ques­tions also express ways of under­stand­ing the world. For exam­ple, church bells in the region would sound every 15 min­utes. Based on the Islam­ic call for prayer, Koné had assumed that this must mean Ital­ians are pray­ing every 15 min­utes.6 The ques­tion “why do you like Blacks” had been direct­ed at me per­son­al­ly. Based on the more com­mon expe­ri­ence of being ignored by Ital­ians, Khal­i­fa had inter­pret­ed my inter­est in their lives to mean that I liked “Blacks.”

Figure 8: What I wanted to ask… (2)

Sim­i­lar­ly, when Amadou wrote “why are Ital­ians always on their phone,” he was not look­ing for an answer, but express­ing an expe­ri­ence. He explained it to me as a great pun, for so often he had heard Ital­ians cri­tique Africans for being on their phones, now he would ques­tion Ital­ians for being on their phones.

To explore the world of the phone, I asked Amadou and oth­ers to guide me through their phones, and from these sto­ries recre­at­ed two typ­i­cal phone screens.

Figure 9: Phone (1)
Figure 10: Phone (2)

These phone apps express a mul­ti­tude of expe­ri­ences, inter­ests, and needs. The apps for find­ing new peo­ple, and stay­ing in touch with friends and fam­i­ly else­where, show how social rela­tions were cre­at­ed and main­tained through the phone. The Bible and Qur’an apps are stand­ing in for a reli­gious com­mu­ni­ty that could not be found in the sur­round­ing area, as the near­est mosque was many kilo­me­tres away, and even Chris­t­ian refugees were unable to go to church because the already lim­it­ed bus net­work did not oper­ate on Sundays. 

Intrigued by the impor­tance of foot­ball, illus­trat­ed by the many foot­ball apps that were used, I asked par­tic­i­pants to draw their favourite teams. Lis­ten to pho­to below here:

Figure 11: Football

What I thought would be a quick process of sketch­ing, turned into hours of painstak­ing­ly copy­ing every detail of the foot­ball emblem. As we worked togeth­er, talked about their teams, and watched foot­ball match­es, for a moment I shared in the joy, frus­tra­tion, and home that is football.

The image and sounds also give a glimpse into life inside the refugee house. There were hous­es like this one all across the val­ley, some­times with as few as three peo­ple, oth­er times as many as 26. Most of the refugees were from across Sub-Saha­ran Africa, and rarely would they live with peo­ple from their own coun­try or eth­nic group. As a result com­mu­ni­ca­tion was com­plex. Amadou could be speak­ing Mandin­ka, then turn around and con­tin­ue in Pulaar, answer a ques­tion in bro­ken Eng­lish, and then turn to me to speak in Ital­ian. For an untrained ear, all African lan­guages merge into one, so that the num­ber and diver­si­ty of lan­guages might not imme­di­ate­ly be rec­og­nized or appre­ci­at­ed. In an effort to explore the world of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, I mapped with par­tic­i­pants the dif­fer­ent lan­guages they spoke.

The maps shows that in this rur­al val­ley in cen­tral Italy, more than 27 lan­guages could be heard on a dai­ly basis, by peo­ple who spoke an aver­age of four lan­guages each. The map was intend­ed to make this great lin­guis­tic capac­i­ty vis­i­ble for Ital­ian res­i­dents, who often com­plained that refugees did not speak ‘the lan­guage’. What was for me an effort acknowl­edge and cel­e­brate the beau­ty of lan­guage, actu­al­ly made some par­tic­i­pants uncom­fort­able as I was not only mak­ing their lan­guage skills vis­i­ble, but also the eth­nic iden­ti­ties that were asso­ci­at­ed with those lan­guages. To cir­cum­vent this issue, the map does not include any names, and peo­ple are only rep­re­sent­ed by a green dot. This made the map even more com­plex, evok­ing even bet­ter the chaos and com­plex­i­ty of every­day conversations.

Read­ers can enter this world of com­mu­ni­ca­tion by trac­ing how one per­son (green dot) might com­mu­ni­cate with anoth­er, in a shared lan­guage (white box), through the lines that indi­cate speak­ers’ lin­guis­tic abil­i­ty: native (red), flu­ent (black), con­ver­sa­tion­al (dot­ted).

Figure 12: Languages

By reflect­ing on the cre­ation of a visu­al essay, this arti­cle explored the ques­tion: how might we com­mu­ni­cate oth­er people’s lived expe­ri­ences, espe­cial­ly when these are being framed by politi­cized and medi­a­tized real­i­ties. The visu­al essay responds to this through a triple move­ment where cre­at­ing shared expe­ri­ences was at the heart of the mak­ing process, the read­ing expe­ri­ence and the essay’s intend­ed impact. Rather than being guid­ed by a dis­course on refugees, the shared mak­ing of the essay’s mate­ri­als was a way for par­tic­i­pants to guide me through parts of their lives, beyond the real­i­ties pre­sent­ed in pol­i­tics and the media.

This invi­ta­tion to enter a world was then extend­ed to oth­ers through a visu­al essay that exper­i­ment­ed with an alter­na­tive read­ing expe­ri­ence. The essay presents the mate­ri­als in such a way that it rais­es as many ques­tions as it pro­vides answers, thus defy­ing clo­sure and main­tain­ing the dis­tance that is nec­es­sary in “speak­ing near­by.” (Chen). Instead of offer­ing a com­pre­hen­sive nar­ra­tive and thus explic­it­ly or implic­it­ly con­fin­ing peo­ple to a sto­ry told about them, the visu­al essay only dis­clos­es the world in-part, through glimpses into lived real­i­ties. More­over, the essay plays with form, poet­ics, and aes­thet­ics in an effort to evoke expe­ri­ences in read­ers, rather than only describe the ones of oth­ers. It was assumed that it is not a spe­cif­ic mode (text, image etc.) that is par­tic­u­lar­ly evoca­tive, but the way it is employed. The essay thus appeals to a mul­ti­modal­i­ty where peo­ple, sto­ries, images, and expe­ri­ences tem­porar­i­ly hold togeth­er on the page, cre­at­ing a micro-world that read­ers can briefly share in.

Last­ly, by main­tain­ing both dis­tance and close­ness, under­stand­ing and mis­un­der­stand­ing, a sense of famil­iar­i­ty and strange­ness, it is hoped that the essay trig­gers curios­i­ty, so that read­ers, includ­ing the res­i­dents of Valle di Comi­no, feel encour­aged to seek con­tact and share in expe­ri­ences with oth­ers also out­side the page.


I would like to thank the anony­mous review­ers and edi­tors of this spe­cial issue for assist­ing me in giv­ing shape to this arti­cle. This research was part of a post­grad­u­ate degree Visu­al Ethnog­ra­phy at Lei­den Uni­ver­si­ty and I am thank­ful for the gen­er­ous finan­cial con­tri­bu­tions of the Lei­den Uni­ver­si­ty Fund, the Trustee Fund, and the Min­er­va Fund that made this research pos­si­ble. I am grate­ful to friends and stu­dent col­leagues at Lei­den Uni­ver­si­ty for their encour­age­ment and feed­back, and to Dr. Mark West­more­land in spe­cif­ic, for his always crit­i­cal yet sup­port­ive super­vi­sion through­out the process. I con­tin­ue to be indebt­ed, and remain immense­ly grate­ful to par­tic­i­pants and friends in Italy, who not only helped cre­ate the visu­al essay, but also wel­comed me from the very begin­ning, offered their time, and trust­ed me with their sto­ries and images.

Works Cited

Ahmed, Sara. Queer Phe­nom­e­nol­o­gy: Ori­en­ta­tions, Objects, Oth­ers. Duke Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2006.

Barthes, Roland. Image Music Text. Fontana Press, 1977.

Chen, Nan­cy N. “Speak­ing Near­by.” Visu­al Anthro­pol­o­gy Review, vol. 8, no. 1, 1992, pp. 82–91.

Feld, Steven, and Don­ald Bren­neis. “Doing Anthro­pol­o­gy in Sound.” Amer­i­can Eth­nol­o­gist, vol. 31, no. 4, 2004, pp. 461–74, https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​5​2​5​/​a​e​.​2​0​0​4​.​3​1​.​4​.​461.

Good­man, Nel­son. Ways of World­mak­ing. Hack­ett Pub­lish­ing Com­pa­ny, 1988.

Ingold, Tim. “Epi­logue: Towards a Pol­i­tics of Dwelling.” Con­ser­va­tion and Soci­ety, 2005, pp. 501–08.

Irv­ing, Andrew. The Art of Life and Death: Rad­i­cal Aestet­ics and Ethno­graph­ic Prac­tice. Hau Books, 2017.

Krzyzanows­ki, Michal, et al. “The Medi­a­ti­za­tion and the Politi­ciza­tion of the ‘Refugee Cri­sis’ in Europe.” Jour­nal of Immi­grant & Refugee Stud­ies, vol. 16, no. 1–2, 2018, pp. 1–14.

Lems, Anni­ka. Being-Here: Place­mak­ing in a World of Move­ment. Berghahn Books, 2018.

Pauwels, Luc. “World Cities Reframed: A Visu­al Take on Glob­al­iza­tion.” Visu­al Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, vol. 13, no. 3, 2014, pp. 389–402, https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​1​7​7​/​1​4​7​0​3​5​7​2​1​4​5​3​0​069.

Ström­bäck, Jes­per. “Four Phas­es of Medi­a­ti­za­tion: An Analy­sis of the Medi­a­ti­za­tion of Pol­i­tics.” The Inter­na­tion­al Jour­nal of Press/Politics, vol. 13, no. 3, 2008, pp. 228–46.

Suther­land, Patrick. “The Pho­to Essay.” Visu­al Anthro­pol­o­gy Review, vol. 32, no. 2, 2016, pp. 115–21.

Tsing, Anna. The Mush­room at the End of the World: On the Pos­si­bil­i­ty of Life in Cap­i­tal­ist Ruins. Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2015.

Tuck­ett, Anna. Rules, Paper, Sta­tus: Migrants and Pre­car­i­ous Bureau­cra­cy in Con­tem­po­rary Italy. Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2018.

van der Maarel, Shirley. “In Search of the Unknown. The Visu­al Essay as a Method of Explo­ration, Through an Artis­tic and Par­tic­i­pa­to­ry Process.” Anthro­vi­sion, vol. 8, no. 1, 2020.

van der Velden, Marieke. “A Mon­day in Kab­ul.” [Pho­tog­ra­phy Doc­u­men­tary], 2014.

Image notes

Pho­tos of Yaya and Kone’s favourite place (Fig­ure 5 and 6) were made by Sil­via di Pas­sio. Draw­ings of foot­ball emblems (Fig­ure 11) were made by the par­tic­i­pants Yaya, Sidike, and Souley­mane. App icons (Fig­ure 9 and 10) were tak­en from the App Store/Google Play. All oth­er mate­ri­als cre­at­ed by the author.


  1. A note on ter­mi­nol­o­gy. When I use the term “refugee” I refer to the peo­ple who were host­ed in the asy­lum facil­i­ties, where most of them were await­ing asy­lum, and a few of them had been grant­ed or were reject­ed asy­lum. Ital­ians in the region would gen­er­al­ly not use the word refugee, which they instead asso­ci­at­ed with vic­tims of wars they had seen on TV. Ital­ians who worked with refugees would gen­er­al­ly use “richieden­ti asi­lo” (asy­lum seek­ers), “migranti” (migrants), or occa­sion­al­ly “immi­grati” (immi­grants). The aver­age Ital­ian res­i­dent, how­ev­er, would use “extra­co­mu­ni­tari” (non-EU cit­i­zens) or “i neri” (black peo­ple). The refugees them­selves would use the term “African,” unless refer­ring to some­one from out­side of Sub-Saha­ran Africa, in which case they used the rel­e­vant nation­al­i­ty.

  2. The research was part of an MA degree in Visu­al Ethnog­ra­phy, Lei­den Uni­ver­si­ty, super­vised by Dr. Mark West­more­land. Research on site took place between Jan­u­ary and March 2019, in the val­ley of Valle di Comi­no, Italy. The val­ley host­ed just over 100 refugees in shared hous­ing and apart­ments. The major­i­ty of refugees were men (82%) from across Africa (83%). The full visu­al essay includes the cre­ative con­tri­bu­tions of 15 peo­ple, but is based on research activ­i­ties con­duct­ed with 40 research par­tic­i­pants, pri­mar­i­ly young men from across Sub-Saha­ran Africa.

  3. See www​.sub​jec​tiveed​i​tions​.org.

  4. This is not to say that refugee par­tic­i­pants expe­ri­enced the world in the same man­ner, nor that there is a sin­gle world shared between them. Rather, it is to say that there is a space shared between refugees in a way that there was gen­er­al­ly not a shared space between Ital­ian and refugee res­i­dents. For more on world-mak­ing, see for exam­ple Nel­son Good­man (Good­man).

  5. Over the course of one day, with a group of refugees and a local pho­tog­ra­ph­er, Sil­via di Pas­sio, we vis­it­ed par­tic­i­pants’ favourite places in the val­ley. This activ­i­ty was inspired by A Mon­day in Kab­ul, a work by Dutch pho­tog­ra­ph­er Marieke van der Velden (van der Velden).

  6. In the vil­lages, church bells would sound every 15 min­utes to indi­cate time. There are two dif­fer­ent kinds of bells, one to indi­cate the hour, and a dif­fer­ent bell for the min­utes; once, twice, or three times for respec­tive­ly for 15, 30, or 45 min­utes past the hour.