About the project


Aim of the project Specially Unknown is to promote the participation of refugees (third country nationals) in cultural life and society through the dissemination of the results of the Dutch oral history project Ongekend Bijzonder by implementing its innovative methods (life stories, co-creation & cultural productions) in collaboration with partners in 4 EU cities (Antwerp, Paris, Bochum, Turin) as well as to investigate in 9 Member States (The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Hungary, Portugal and Sweden) how cultural participation can be used as an instrument for the integration of refugees in society overall. The results will be of use to other heritage institutes and governments.



Organization and Partners

The general coordinator and secretariat of the project is Foundation BMP (Amsterdam). The main partners Red Star Line Museum (Antwerp), LWL Industriemuseum (Bochum), Association Génériques (Paris) and Rete Italiana di Cultura Popolare (Turin) act as the local project coordinator in the participating 4 EU cities.




In today’s Europe refugees form an integral part of our cities. They bring valuable contributions to the economic, social and cultural fabric of the cities they live in. Yet the lives, the contributions and history of refugees in European cities still remain undocumented and make hardly part of our European heritage. Added to this, the public perception of refugees which is largely shaped by the dominant media and political interests often represent refugees in a negative light. The intention of the project is to initiate the process of changing such a situation in the EU.




The main objective of the project is to promote the participation of third country nationals with a refugee background in cultural life and in society overall by:


  • Collecting 140 life stories of refugees in 4 European cities (oral history interviews by refugee fieldworkers)
  • Making 4 to 8 cultural productions in co-creation between museums, archives and cultural organizations with at least 90 refugees, for a public of ca 10.000 in each city.
  • Establishing a European database of English subtitled oral history interviews of the 140 interviews and the 248 Dutch refugee interviews.
  • Carrying out a future oriented Delphi research on experiences and expectations concerning the cultural participation of refugees in 9 EU member states.
  • Developing policy advise on a national and European level, as well as educational and methodological material for cultural institutions, schools and universities.
  • Disseminating the results of the project through a European Conference and networks of cities in other EU Member States.


The project contributes to the capacity building of the fieldworkers, empowerment of refugee communities, diversification of European heritage institutions, another image of refugees in the public opinion, new working relationships between cultural institutions and refugees, lasting source material for research and new policy measures on the integration of refugees. In the whole project round 45 organizations in 9 Member States will be directly involved.




In order to achieve the objectives the project has 6 activities that reinforce each other:

  1. Oral history training: 16 to 32 bilingual fieldworkers with a refugee background, from selected communities in each EU city are trained to interview and transcribe according to the oral history methods
  2. 140 oral history interviews: Fieldworkers collect 40 individual life interviews with refugees from selected communities in Antwerp, Bochum, Paris and Turin. The interviews become part of collections of the (city) archives of the four cities and accessible via a European database.
  3. Steering committee: Representatives from cultural institutions (museums, archives and public libraries), refugees, cultural networks and the municipality of the four EU cities take part in a local steering group to give support and advice on the projects progress and plans for the artistic presentations.
  4. Artistic presentations: Refugee communities organize in co-creation with cultural institutions, artistic presentations based on the interviews.
  5. Delphi panel survey: To broaden the scope of the project and to investigate the further possibilities of promoting the participation of refugees in cultural life in EU member states a future oriented research will be carried out in 9 member states. In addition to the four local project coordinators, the following partners are collaborating in the part of the project: Greek forum of Refugees (Athens), Conselho Português para os Refugiados (Lisbon), Menedek (Budapest) and Act for Integration (Skillinge).
  6. European conference: Results of the project and the developed policy advice on the integration and active participation of refugee in social activities and cultural life will be presented and discussed at a European conference in Amsterdam.

The final publication on the project results and the outcomes of conference can be used by policymakers, refugee organisations, cultural institutions, educators, journalists and researchers all over Europe.




The European project Specially Unknown will last for 24 months and will be implemented in three parts. The start of the project is October 2017, the projects ends in September 2019.

Part 1: Oct 2017 – Mar 2018: – Oral history training and start Delphi panel study

Part 2: Mar 2018 – Aug 2018: – Collecting oral history interviews and Artistic presentations in 4 cities

Part 3: Sep 2018 – Sep 2019: – Conclusions Delphi panel study and Conference in Amsterdam




For more information on the project Specially Unknown EU contact the secretariat of the project:



Stichting BMP

Asterweg 19 C7

1031 HL Amsterdam

The Netherlands
Tel: 0031 (0) 20 4282728

Email: speciallyunknown@stichtingbmp.nl

Project website: www.speciallyunknown.eu

Website BMP: www.stichtingbmp.nl



The project Specially Unknown EU is funded by the EC’s European Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and financed by the partners: