''we don't pray like Muslims at the mosque or Christians at the church. There are no books. Me talking to you, our conversation, that is our praying''
Alevi presence in London and other cities has appeared through migration since the 1980s from Turkey, Kurdistan, Syria and Iran. Alevi spiritual beliefs and practices embody values of tolerance, freedom, justice, democracy, progress and equality for women. Their community space and ritual is known as a Cemevi (a house of gathering). I deeply engaged with the Alevi community at the East London Centre for two years, attempting to understand how a framework of identity was being re-imagined and re-transmitted to the London-born Alevi youth through such practices as the dance of the Semah and the telling of centuries old stories and poetry by the Ashik and the Dede. Having suffered persecution for centuries, the Alevi have often had to conceal their identity. I also worked with the community to gather personal photographs and so start the beginnings of an Alevi archive free of any institutional or state control. The archive will be narrated and expanded by the Alevi youth.