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International Committee Scholarships

Each year scholarship applications submitted by selected international participants for the upcoming OHA annual meeting are reviewed by the International Committee.  This year ten applications were reviewed. With only $3,500.00 in total to offer, the decisions on which applications to fund were difficult ones for the committee.

The following six participants were granted scholarships:

Tetiana Borka from Kyiv, Ukrakine
Sevil Cakir from Mersin, Turkey
Katherine Fobear from British Columbia, Canada
Selma Leydesdorff from Amsterdam, Netherlands
Jo Roberts from Ontario, Canada
Stacy Zembrzycki from Quebec, Canada

In June, we featured abstracts from Tetuaba Borka and Sevil Cakir.  This month, abstracts from Katherine Fobear and Selma Leydesdorff are highlighted.

Katherine Forbear:  Accordion Homes: Understanding Memory and Emotional Attachment in Queer Refugee’s Stories of Home in Metro Vancouver
Abstract: For the past decade, the number of individuals claiming refugee asylum based on sexual orientation and gender identity has risen dramatically, making this one of the fastest-growing refugee populations in the world. Despite this record, little is known about the settlement experiences of sexual and gender refugees once they have received their refugee status. This article explores sexual and gender minority refugees’ settlement in Vancouver, Canada, based on one year of in-depth oral history interviews with fifteen sexual and gender minority refugees and a participatory photography project with five sexual and gender minority refugees.

In this project, home becomes a framing device in which participants take photographs and share stories of home and belonging. Through the participants’ photographs and personal stories of settlement, the creation of home is seen not as a linear or singular process, but an ever shifting emotional and mnemonic journey that is intimately tied to sexual and gender minority refugees’ subjectivities and their sense of place. For sexual and gender minority refugees, memory serves as a mechanism for individuals to create a place for themselves in Metro Vancouver and a feeling of belonging that spans across national borders, creating an in-between space. Through the participants’ photographs and stories, we see how memory is always on the move by constantly creating new places of attachment and association. What emerges from this project is the complexity of sexual and gender minority refugees’ lived experiences as they continue to navigate around and challenge oppressive structural barriers and form complex relationships across various communities and spaces in order to build a home for themselves in Canada.

Selma Leydesdorf:  Listening on the Edge: Oral History in the Aftermath of Crisis
Abstract: From the headlines of local newspapers to the coverage of major media outlets, scenes of war, natural disaster, political revolution, and ethnic repression greet readers and viewers at every turn. The complexity and texture of these situations are most evident in the broader personal stories of those whom the events struck most intimately. Oral history has emerged as a forceful approach to exploring the human experience of crisis.

Oral history in crisis environments can help those who have suffered trauma appropriately process the experience into memory; it can help communities contextualize crisis and move beyond it; and it can record the emotional perspective and short-term memory of those involved. The emergent inclination for oral historians to document crisis calls for a shared conversation among scholars as to what we have learned from crisis work so far. This dialogue at the OHA will build off the publication Listening on the Edge: Oral History in the Aftermath of Crisis released by Oxford Press in spring 2014. From the perspective of crisis and disaster oral history, this book addresses both the ways in which we think about the craft of oral history, and the manner in which we use it.

The roundtable will include seven contributors to the book, who have interviewed those impacted by a half-dozen world crises—including the Rwandan genocide, 9/11, the massacre in Srebrenica, Bosnia by Serbian forces, and Hurricane Katrina. Presenters will reflect on the methodological issues inherent in the practice of oral history in such environments.

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