CNR Autumn events

Please see the list of CNR’s events forthcoming in autumn and winter 2016. Further details will be circulated closer to the dates. Everyone is welcome! 

Looking forward to seeing/meeting you in some of these events! 


19th October 2016, 2- 4pm
University of East London (UEL), Docklands Campus, Room EB1.03

As part of the UEL’s School of Social Sciences’ Seminar Series

Ethical considerations when working with narratives in Social Sciences

Bethany Morgan-Brett, title TBA
Helen Kim Telling Stories of ‘Other’ Koreans: Ethical Dilemmas in Racing Research
Georgie Wemyss ‘I can’t use that’: reflecting on ethics when your everyday work and political life become your PhD research site


National Centre for Research Methods International Visiting Scholars at CNR

CNR is pleased to host two international visiting scholars in November 2016, Jill Bradbury (University of the Witwatersrand) and Michelle Fine (CUNY), funded by the NCRM. The following programme is coordinated by Molly Andrews, Cigdem Esin, Ann Phoenix and Corinne Squire, with Jill Bradbury and Michelle Fine.


4th November 2016, 2 – 5pm (Part of NCRM visiting scholar programme)

UEL, Docklands Campus, Room EB1.41

Workshop: Using narrative and participatory methods for social transformation With Michelle Fine (City University of New York) and Jill Bradbury (Witwatersrand University)

5 – 6pm Reception


9th & 10th November 2016, 10am – 4pm (Part of NCRM visiting scholar programme)

UEL, USS Campus, Room US2.02 (9th) and US3.08 (10th)

Colloquium: Interdisciplinary perspectives on narrative methodologies, participation, and social transformation

16th November 2016, 10.30am – 3.30pm, Thomas Coram Research Unit, 27-28 Woburn Square, Room TBA (Part of NCRM visiting scholar programme)

NCRM Day School: Bringing together narrative and participatory methods
With Jill Bradbury and Michelle Fine
Chair: Ann Phoenix


18th November 2016, 10am – 4pm, Venue TBA (Part of NCRM visiting scholar programme)

Centre for Narrative and Auto/ Biographical Studies, Edinburgh University

10am – 1pm Jill Bradbury and Michelle Fine, presenting current work
2 – 4pm Workshop on narrative and participatory methods for social transformation

Chair: Professor Liz Stanley


30th November 2016, 1 – 2pm
UEL, Docklands Campus, Room EB1.40

This is a collaborative event with CMRB.

Taking Our Country Back: ‘Racism, Xenophobia and Donald Trump’s Place in Context’
With Charles A. Gallagher, La Salle University, Yale University, University of Birmingham

12th December 2016, 5 – 7pm UEL, USS Campus, Room US2.30

CNR with CMRB present, on behalf of the Academy of Social Sciences Study Group on Refugee Issues the AcSS Refugee Issues Special Interest Group Inaugural Event:

Refugees, Belonging and Society

A panel discussion on contemporary issues around refugees in the UK and European contexts, open to AcSS Fellows and to the wider public.

Panel speakers: AcSS Fellows Professors Heaven Crawley (Coventry University), Nando Seguro (Birmingham University), Jenny Phillimore (Birmingham University) and Nira Yuval-Davis (University of East London).

Discussant: Professor Avtar Brah (Birkbeck College, FAcSS)
Chair: Professor Corinne Squire (University of East London, FAcSS).

7 – 8pm Inaugural meeting of the Academy of Social Sciences Study Group on Refugee Issues


CNR–TCRU Postgraduate Narrative Research Seminars, 2015-2016

All seminars take place from 5 – 6.30pm at the Thomas Coram Research Unit, 27-28 Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AA.

8th November 2016

Noelle McCormack, Centre for Narrative Research, University of East London: Making memory sites: Extending opportunites for people with profound learning disabilities to participate in life story work

13th December 2016

Susy Ridout, Birmingham University: Narrating experience: the advantage of using mixed expressive media to bring autistic voices to the fore in discourse around their support requirements


For all inquiries please contact


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Life stories in the Jungle in the media

TABLETTI - IMG_5823By Aura Lounasmaa

Our short course, Life Stories in the Jungle, is currently on a summer break. We have had a busy year teaching the course and organising related workshops, such as the Displaces photography workshops with Gideon Mendel, Crispin Hughes and Marie Godin (for more information see here) and an art workshop with the women’s centre (see here). Our last workshop, in the beginning of June, was on accessing Higher Education in the UK and elsewhere. This workshop was organised due to popular demand by many of our students.

While the course is on a summer break, we are still keeping busy. We are planning next year’s course and presenting the course and the work by some of our students at many events across the UK. The Bridge, a film by Babak Inaloo and Ali Haghooi about the Jungle and life there was screened at the London East Film Festival on the 26 June. This week Corinne Squire and Katrine Moeller presented the course at Refugee Tales opening event, and the last presentation will be at the Oral History Society Annual Conference free public event on Friday –

We are also working currently on providing editorial assistance to a book that our students from the Jungle are writing for Pluto Press, due to be published next year.

Some recent media coverage of our course and related work includes an article in the Research Professional and a two-part radio series by Philip Coulter to CBC Ideas, links to all of these below.

Times Higher: ‘University for all’

Educating Syria – Research Professional

CBC Ideas, ‘No Man’s Land’ part 1, by Philip Coulter, featuring UfA’s Aura Lounasma

CBC Ideas, ‘No man’s land’ part 2, by Philip Coulter, featuring UfA’s Aura Lounasmaa

The course continues in the autumn. We are also planning activities that allow closer collaboration between UK universities on refugee education and access to HE. If you are interested in contributing your ideas on how universities can respond to the needs of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK and beyond, please do get in touch with us.



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Upcoming events showcasing Life Stories in the Jungle short course

Please see below a list of events taking place in June and July which showcase the Life Stories in the Jungle short course

June 10: UEL civic engagement festival
UEL Stratford Campus
Photo exhibition from the course featuring Displaces photo project display by Life Stories students, Gideon Mendel and Crispen Hughes; and a panel discussion on ‘Responses to the refugee crisis’, introduced by Corinne Squire, Aura Lounasmaa, Cigdem Esin and Tim Hall, with Nira Yuval-Davies, Help Refugees, Art Refuge UK, and Matt Broomfield

The Barbican Conservatory 1pm
This critical celebration will examine the creative and urban culture which has emerged from refugee camps across Europe. It will bring together refugee artists, musicians, poets, chefs and builders with a programme of discussions taking place on multiple stages throughout the day.
Life Stories in the Jungle will showcase Displaces photo project and art from art workshop with women

June 22: “Different Pasts: Shared Futures” Showcasing UEL Initiatives Supporting Refugees
University of East London, Docklands Campus. Refugee Council Archive (Ground Floor, Library) and Room, 10am – 7pm

Organised in Conjunction with the Refugee Council Archive at UEL; the Centre for Narrative Research and the MA in Refugee Studies and Conflict Displacement and Human Security at UEL. Event for Refugee Week 2016. Mix of sessions to showcase the initiatives currently being undertaken by staff and students here at the University of East London to help support migrants and refugees and to showcase new projects and research to help promote and celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK, and encourages a better understanding between communities.

June 26: East End Film Festival
Location and time of screening to be confirmed
Film premiere of short film ‘The Bridge’, by two students of the Life Stories course about two Iranian refugees in the ‘Jungle’ followed by screening of an interview with the film makers and a Q&A by Skype
Spoken word session including some stories from Life Stories and poetry by refugee poets based in the UK, slide show of Displaces photo project
About EEFF. The East End Film Festival is an annual multi-platform festival presenting a rich programme of international premieres, industry masterclasses and live …
July 3: Panel at Refugee Tales opening Forum
Kent University, Keynes College 10am-8pm
presentation by Corinne Squire, Zimako Jones (by skype and film) and a poet who is a refugee. Podcasts of stories from the Life Stories course.
Being Detained Indefinitely A Day of Thought, Performance and Action Sunday 3 July 2016 10am – 8pm Keynes College University of Kent. Refugee Tales 2016 will open …
July 8 : Public event at Oral History Society conference
Roehampton University, William Morris lecture theatre at Whitelands College, London SW15 5PU,  5.30pm-7.30pm
This session will showcase material from the University of East London’s life stories course in the Calais ‘Jungle’ refugee camp. The event will include contributions from artists, photographers, poets and film makers and refugee artists and poets based in the UK

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TCRU-CNR graduate seminar, 3.5.16: Storying Mothering Online

Dr Heather Elliot, Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education

 Storying Mothering Online 

Tuesday 3rd May 2016, 5 – 6.30pm

The Library, Thomas Coram Research Unit

27 – 28 Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AA 

All welcome, particularly graduate students.

This paper considers how mothering and family life is storied online. It considers what is new (if anything) about the work.

The phenomenon of ‘mummyblogging’ has emerged as a means of documenting and sharing mothering practices and families’ lives, and of developing communities of interest as well as commercial opportunities.

It has been argued that the blogosphere has provided space for collective writing about mothering and support but also a resurgence in repressive and narrow ideas about how women mother. Women who blog about mothering are more likely than other bloggers to disclose personal information: indeed such disclosure is valued as a marker of ‘authenticity’, building credibility among online mothering communities and enhancing marketability. These new ways of making mothering public are in line with recent trends towards confessional writing about motherhood.

Drawing on narrative case studies involving analyses of blog posts and interviews with bloggers I consider the dilemmas bloggers face in telling stories about themselves and their family, particularly their children in public.

Taking a doubled look at ethics of public representation, I discuss my own dilemmas in working ‘beyond anonymization’, turning blogs into research data, illustrating the impossibility of ever knowing what is at stake for the teller, even in apparently innocuous online stories.

Dr Heather Elliott is a researcher at the Thomas Coram Research Unit, at UCL’s Institute of Education. She has interests in the psycho-social, narrative, mothering and work and in children’s imaginaries. Recent publications include:

Elliott, H and Squire, C (2016, forthcoming)  ‘Narratives of normativity, transgression and reformulation: How mothers’ blogs frame mothering, family and food in resource constrained times’ Forum for Qualitative Research as part of Special Issue on ‘Narrative Media and Ways of Knowing’ (Elliott, H and Squire, C (eds)).

Brannen, J.; Elliott, H. and Phoenix, A. (2016) ‘Narratives of success among Irish and African Caribbean migrants’  Ethnic and Racial Studies.

Her novel, Paradise Rocks, has been longlisted for the Times/Chickenhouse prize for children’s fiction.

For further details please contact Corinne Squire at

Details are also on the CNR website

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Telling London Stories: A Centre for Narrative Research, UEL, Workshop and School Seminar

‘Telling London Stories’: Poetry Workshop

Wednesday 9th March 2016, 10.30am – 1pm, EB.1.04.

10am: Drinks, welcome

This Poetry Workshop is for anyone interested in poetry: Deanna welcomes everyone! Poetry is an important, pleasurable, and perhaps under-used way of exploring issues we address in Social Sciences, and in our own lives.

Numbers are limited – please email to book your place.

Followed by:

2. Telling London Stories: A seminar on Dialogue and Performance in the City


Wednesday 9th March, 2-4pm, Room EB1.105

A Roundtable with:

Deanna Rodger, poet, educator and activist


Cigdem Esin, Jennifer Achan, and Angie Voela, UEL Social Sciences: ‘A Diasporic Trialogue: Mothers, Losses and Selves’

 Toby Butler, UEL Arts and Digital Industries: ‘Oral history and place’

Sian Jones, UEL Health and Bioscience: ‘Mapping Redbridge’.

Tessa McWatt and Sam Dodd, UEL Arts and Digital Industries: ‘CityLife Stories’


3.30pm: Performance by Deanna Rodger.

4.00pm: Refreshments, discussions


Deanna Rodger, a former UK Poetry Slam Champion and actor, and one of ELLE magazine’s ’30 inspirational women under 30′. Nominated as a Rising Star for Hospital Club’s 100 awards, Deanna is an international workshop facilitator, and has written and performed commissions for BBC (Women Who Spit; Words First; Freespeech), Guardian News, and National Youth Theatre (2012 Olympic Team Welcome Ceremonies; Buckingham Palace; Speakers House). She co-curates one of London’s leading spoken word events: Chill Pill and is a member of Keats House Poetry Collective. Deanna is currently writing and producing her ‘spoken word meets quantum physics’ show ‘Matter’ which has been supported by; Roundhouse Camden; Albany Deptford; Lyric Hammersmith; New Writing South and Arts Council England.


For the symposium and performance, please reserve a place here:




The UEL Social Sciences School Seminar Series

UEL School of Social Sciences takes pride in the fact that it maintains high standards for teaching and for research. The Seminar Series is designed to serve as a forum for academic staff and intellectually curious students to learn about current research in fields related to the School and to engage in life-affirming dialogue about ideas. Equally important, it aims to enrich a sense of intellectual and social belonging. Members of our academic community and outside guests are urged to contribute to these important aims by participating in invited lectures both related to their specialisation, as well as less familiar topics which will help them continue to develop as well-rounded intellectuals. Informal discussion over light refreshment will follow the lectures.

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TO THINK IS TO EXPERIMENT Postgraduate Research Day,
University of East London, University Square Stratford, 20th April 2016

The Centre for Narrative Research (CNR) organises the annual Research Day for postgraduate researchers on 20th April 2016, at the University of East London, Stratford Campus.

This year, we invite papers focusing on doing narrative analysis, discussing and reflecting on analysing narratives. Narrative analysis refers to both broader epistemological approaches to analysing narratives and specific narrative models and forms of analysis. We are specifically interested in papers discussing reflective/reflexive narrative analytical practices. Papers may focus on philosophical, methodological or ethical challenges that researchers tackle at any stage of the analytical process.

This is a call for papers for all postgraduate researchers. Participants can contribute with a short paper (15-20 minute long) or a poster.
Please send an abstract (150-200 words) to Cigdem Esin,
by 11th March, 2016. Applicants will hear back from us by 14th March, 2016

We look forward to meeting participants from various institutions and organisations for a friendly and fruitful day of presentations and discussions, as we did over the past years. To ‘Think is to Experiment’ has been a narrative space for postgraduate researchers from various disciplines for fifteen years. The event has been home to stimulating presentations and intense conversations on the multiplicities in narrative-based research, approaches and experiences. The programme and abstracts from previous years can be viewed on this link

Please note that this is a free event but places are limited.
All best wishes,
CNR team

Centre for Narrative Research

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CNR-TCRU graduate seminar: Phoebe Beedell, ‘Negotiating the dilemmas of development in Bangladesh’

CNR-TCRU Postgraduate Narrative Research Seminars, 2015-2016

Organised by the Centre for Narrative Research (CNR), University of East London

and the Thomas Coram Research Unit (TCRU), UCL Institute of Education


Phoebe Beedell, University of East London

Negotiating the dilemmas of development in Bangladesh:

A case study of local development consultants working with the garment sector


Tuesday 9th February 2016, 5 – 6.30pm

The Library, Thomas Coram Research Unit, 27 – 28 Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AA


All welcome, particularly graduate students.


For many years now, investigative journalists and consumer-led pressure groups have worked to expose, and protest against, the injustices and oppressive practices that take place in the manufacture and supply chains of global fashion brands. The catastrophic collapse of a factory building at Rana Plaza, Dhaka, in April 2013, once again focussed attention upon working conditions in an industry that has huge significance for the Bangladesh economy, and which has undoubtedly provided hundreds of thousands of women with a route out of poverty.   The multinational companies’ concern with improving their reputations has spawned another minor industry – that of ‘ethical consultants’, tasked with routing out child labour and other unethical practices, training factory managers and auditing and inspecting premises for so-called ‘compliance’ with particular standards. My PhD research is a psycho-social study of how a broad range of local development-oriented NGO professionals and social activists negotiate the ethical dilemmas inherent in their work. For this presentation I will explore the challenges faced by a small group of local ‘ethical business’ consultants. Using data from biographical and event-centred narrative interviews conducted in 2014, I will illustrate how these workers negotiate their way through a labyrinth of competing interests, differing values and often contradictory forces.  The stories they tell, and the experiences they reveal, demonstrate why private sector involvement in developmental initiatives should be treated with caution and consulting organisations held to account; and suggest that radical alternatives might, after all, be possible.


Phoebe Beedell is a PhD scholarship holder with the University of East London. She originally trained in graphic design and spent ten years 1989-99 living in Lesotho and Zimbabwe working in development communications, AIDS prevention and reproductive health campaigns.  After completing a Masters in Development Studies at Bristol University, she worked as a community engagement trainer and facilitator before joining the Centre of Psycho-Social Studies at the University of the West of England as a researcher.  Phoebe has undertaken qualitative research on major ESRC projects including ‘Negotiating Ethical Dilemmas in Contested Communities’ and ‘Identities, Educational Choice and the White Urban Middle Class’ in the Identities and Social Action programme; and more recently on Paired Peers, a longitudinal study on the role HE plays in social mobility.  She has published articles on motivation, class, positionality and a book chapter on psychosocial research methodology. She is planning to use Augusto Boals’s participatory theatre techniques as a means of disseminating her doctoral research and engaging non-academic audiences in further meaningful and productive dialogue.


For further details please contact Corinne Squire at

Details are also on the CNR website

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The Role of Rights Activism, Academia and Performing Arts Practices: A conversation

By Molly Andrews

Yesterday UEL sponsored a wonderful event at the Arcola Theatre, in partnership with Nine Lives Production. Organised by our PhD student, Alice Mukaka – who holds a UEL PhD studentship – the afternoon symposium brought together activists, academics and artists who work on refugee issues. The presentations ranged from poetry readings, to artists talking about their installations, to academic research, an unusual and extremely rich mixture.
Following the event – and a wonderful light dinner – the audience was treated to a most powerful performance by Lladel Bryant in his one man show, Nine Lives. (As part of her PhD, Alice has been following the Nine Lives production around the country, gauging the affect performance has on (re)shaping people’s attitudes to the refugee crisis.) The show is on for 4 more days at the Arcola, and if you haven’t seen it, you really should not miss it. Exceptional.
For more details and to book tickets, please see
Through a complex network of funding (including contributions from all of the research centres in our school, as well as from some others) the symposium, dinner, and play were all free to the public.
Full details of the sponsors and contributors can be found here
Although not identified as a ‘civic engagement event’ this was one of the finest embodiments of
such a principle.
Well done to Alice for organising this, and to UEL for supporting it.
Images, from top, Alex Chisholm, the director of the play, the audience in the sold out event and Prof Gargi Bhattacharyya (University of East London). Images courtesy of Molly Andrews.

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Cultural Memory – Friday 5th February 2016, 3.30 – 5.30pm by the Centre for Narrative Research (University of East London) and the Centre for Language, Discourse and Communication (King’s College London)

On Friday 5th February 2016, 3.30 – 5.30pm the Centre for Narrative Research (University of East London) and the Centre for Language, Discourse and Communication (King’s College London) are holding a public lecture on the theme of Cultural Memory, followed by the launch of Jens Brockmeier’s new book, Beyond the Archive: Memory, Narrative, and the Autobiographical Process.


Our longstanding view of memory and remembering is in the midst of a profound transformation. This transformation does not only affect our concept of memory or a particular idea of how we remember and forget; it is a wider cultural process. In order to understand it, one must step back and consider what is meant when we say memory. The studies of this book offer such a perspective, synthesizing understandings of remembering from the neurosciences, humanities, social studies, and in key works of autobiographical literature and life-writing. Brockmeier’s conclusions force us to radically rethink our very notion of memory as an archive of the past, one that suggests the natural existence of a distinctive human capacity (or a set of neuronal systems) enabling us to "encode," "store," and "recall" past experiences. Propelled by new scientific insights and digital technologies, a new picture is emerging. It shows that there are many cultural forms of remembering and forgetting, embedded in a broad spectrum of human activities and artifacts. This picture is more complex than any notion of memory as storage of the past would allow. It comes with a number of alternatives to the archival memory, one of which Brockmeier describes as the narrative approach. The narrative approach not only permits us to explore the storied weave of our most personal form of remembering - that is, the autobiographical- it also sheds new light on the interrelations among memory, self and culture.                                         


The event will take place at King’s College London, Franklin-Wilkins Building (Room 1.11), map:




3.30 – 5.00pm   Between the individual and the social: Panel on Cultural Memory
                             Participants: Molly Andrews, Alessandra Fasulo, Alexandra
Georgakopoulou, Ann Phoenix, Linda Sandino

5.00pm               Book Launch: Beyond the Archive: Memory, Narrative and the
autobiographical Process
Presentation by Jens Brockmeier

5.30pm                Reception


We look forward to seeing you there.



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‘Life Stories’ at the Jungle refugee camp, Calais: ‘University For All’

The Centre for Narrative Research has begun short university courses on ‘Life Stories’ with residents at the Jungle refugee camp in Calais.

Teaching started in November and will continue 4-6 December, before restarting in early 2016. Photography, art and poetry workshops will also be offered. Camp residents will be co-organising all these initiatives, as well as participating as students.

Participants are reading life stories (for instance, those of Nelson Mandela and Barak Obama, as well as Malala Yousafzai), discussing them, examining poems from those of Mahmoud Darwish to the recent work of JJ Bola, as well as photographic representations of lives, and creating some of their own.

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‘Life Stories’ has been taught at Jungle Books, a library and school build and manned by volunteers and residents.

Students currently enrolled come from a range of countries – Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Ethiopia, Eritrea. Many are professionals – electrical engineers, opticians – or university students or graduates in a range of subjects from English literature through political science to physics.  All are keen to further their education, and also to use this course to gain a more public hearing for their stories about their journeys and lives. We hope to facilitate camp residents coauthorship of a book as a result of this project.

Residents already engage in storytelling through forums such as Refugee Voices, initiated by a resident who wanted to share stories from the camp. The dome tent, set up by British playwrights, is another platform for the residents’ storytelling and art projects. Currently a photo and art exhibition is at display. Our hope is to establish a collaboration with such local initiatives.

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Photo exhibition in the ‘Good Chance Theatre’ dome

There are around 4000 people living in this camp, with few facilities as the camp is informal. Many residents with English skills and often, family connections to the UK, have been trying to reach that country. Currently, efforts to do so by road or rail are heavily policed and highly dangerous. There is no clear political commitment from France or the UK to resolve the situation.

foto (1)

The lack of food, water, shelter, clothing, sanitation, and health care in the camp makes the residents’ difficult lives there a human rights issue.

Supported by UEL’s civic engagement strategic fund, we are running courses and workshops at the camp this and next year, under the heading, ‘University for All.’ Education is, of course, an important human right.

We are being greatly helped by other volunteers working in the camp, for instance, those running l’Ecole du Chemin des Dunes, and the Jungle Books Library, and, notably, by many camp residents themselves, particularly Amin, Samir and Naqib at Jungle Books, and Alpha at l’Ecole des Arts et Metiers –  his own project. Zimako has also started a school with which we hope to collaborate.

Many academic colleagues, at for instance UCL Institute of Education, London Metropolitan University, Manchester University, and Manchester Metropolitan University, are also keen to participate, and we will be holding a network meeting about such possibilities, and how we might expand them, early next year.

The team for this first course is Corinne Squire, from CNR; Katrine Møller Hansen, visiting CNR, from the University of Copenhagen; Natalie Ludviggsen, UEL; and Tahir Zaman, from SOAS (and Visiting Fellow at UEL’s Centre for Migration, Refugees and Belonging). Also participating are Hanna Rasmussen, Mohammad Azeem and Samina Rana, also from UEL, and the photographer Gideon Mendel.

If you are interested in finding out more, or participating in University For All, please contact Corinne Squire


Photos by Katrine Møller Hansen. Please do not reuse without permission.

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