Digital Communities

Auszeichnung - Award of Distinction

Refugee Phrasebook


Refugee Phrasebook is an open collaborative project to provide important vocabulary to refugees, helpers, and citizens everywhere. It assembles important phrases from various fields and encourages designers and experts in the field to improve on the material. Together with a global network of volunteer translators, editors, designers, printers, publishers, lawyers, doctors etc., and partner institutions in Germany, Greece, and the Netherlands, we develop sustainable communication tools to share useful phrases, icons, links, and important information for an open culture. All materials are adaptable for local needs and distributed with open licenses to foster communication between refugees, citizens, and helpers all over Europe and the world.

Refugee Phrasebook developed from several community projects in Berlin in August 2015 and quickly turned into an international, volunteer-supported open data project covering 44 languages. With the support of individuals as well as art and academic institutions, approx. 120,000 copies of several versions have been printed and distributed along the refugee routes, in shelters and other locations everywhere between Syria and Norway. In order to sustain the project and print more copies, the core team has expanded and we are looking for every support we can get to fund local printing. It has proven to be easier to print locally in e.g. Greece and to try to support this with donations, than to print in central Europe and ship. Nevertheless, the data remains open and can be reused and printed everywhere in the world. The data has been integrated into several other projects and apps, such as Refugee Phrasebook Flashcards, the Android apps Refugee Phrasebook Interactive, and InfoAid, or recently Refugee Phrasebook for Android and iOS. All these projects were developed independently by other volunteers.

Biography: is coordinated by an international team: Julieta Aranda (Berlin), Monika Dorniak (London), Paul Feigelfeld (Berlin), Caoimhe Gallagher (Dublin), Zoe Claire Miller (Berlin), Markus Neuschäfer (Berlin), Agostina Rufolo (Buenos Aires), and Judith Vrancken (Amsterdam). The team members have backgrounds in academia (literature, media studies, cultural studies, history, art history, political science), in art (sculpture, media art, curating, online platform e-flux), and in open data activism (Open Knowledge Deutschland e.V.). The language data is created and maintained by a changing international team of hundreds of individuals and specialists.