The 1.5 Generation
Refugees are very often not readily accepted by the citizens of their adopted country. This is mainly on the pretext of race, religion and culture. They are also often seen as a threat to the workforce, mainly due to the undercutting of wages.
The 1st generation of immigrants find it difficult to integrate, principally because of the language barrier and cultural issues. They retain, however, a strong affinity with their country of origin. On the other hand, the 1.5 generation fall between two stools. This generation, although brought up in their country of adoption, are still not treated as equals by the locals, mainly due to traces of their cultural ancestries. On the other hand they cannot relate wholly to the citizens of their country of origin due to a difference in mentality.
I heard about the 1.5 generation for the first time whilst doing research about Citizens of Nowhere . I wanted to have firsthand evidence on how these people really feel. So, I set about looking for people who fitted this niche. This was not an easy task, however, after asking around, I found people who fitted this category. I felt that the best way to obtain my answers was through a semi-structured interview. I put together a few questions which led up to the most important one. Why do they feel that they do not belong to either the country of adoption nor to the country of origin?
I approached my participants through email and social media and told them what I was looking for. To my surprise they understood what my study was about and they all agreed to be a part of my project.
For all my interviews, I set up a studio-like setting. As they were not being held at the same place, nor at the same time, I made sure that the setting looked the same. I used a black backdrop with two spot lights concentrating on the interviewees. I wanted to create an environment which solely drew attention onto the participants. The interviews where all filmed in portrait format so that the videos could be joined together at the end.
I became acquainted with each individual during the interviews. After filming, I then took their portrait photos, where I experimented with different techniques. The experience of talking about the subject of ‘not belonging’, was very emotional, and I managed to capture this in their portraits.
The aim of this project is to make people aware of the 1.5 generation, as they somehow seem to be forgotten or ignored. I have created an installation so that viewers will be able to immerse themselves into the lives and stories of these individuals and thus, hopefully, become more attuned to such problems.
In my following blog to come I will reflect and evaluate the final outcomes of this project.