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International Committee sponsors sessions at 2016 annual meeting

The International Committee is pleased to sponsor the following sessions at the upcoming Annual Meeting in Long Beach, CA from October 12-16, 2016.

Thursday, October 13, 2016, 8:30 AM

New Immigrants, New Working Class: Stories from Recent Immigrant Workers in Iowa and Southern California (Panel)


Over the last thirty five years, new groups of immigrants have played a central role in reshaping work in diverse industries across the United States. In the process, they have presented the country’s besieged labor movement with both challenges and opportunities. This session highlights oral histories from two projects directed at recent immigrants’ struggles in two distinct workplace, union, and regional contexts. In the first part of the session, John McKerley and Mariana Ramirez will present findings from their interviews with packinghouse workers (some non-union and some members of the United Food and Commercial Workers) in rural and small-town Iowa. In his part of the presentation, McKerley will place the recent interviews within the context of the parent project (the Iowa Labor History Oral Project) and the larger historiography of meatpacking workers and their unions, particularly the tradition established by the United Packinghouse Workers Oral History Project during the 1980s. Ramirez will build on this presentation with a discussion of recent interviews, particularly those she has conducted with Spanish-speaking narrators. In the third presentation, Andrew Gomez will describe his work with service workers who organized in and around Los Angeles under the banner of Justice for Janitors, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. Working in concert with the UCLA Center for Oral History, he has collected interviews with rank-and-file members, organizers, and local allies in an attempt to understand the roots of the Justice for Janitors movement, its successes, and the histories of the primarily Mexican and Central American workers who have propelled the movement. The session will conclude with comments from and discussion with the audience. The session will be chaired by Toby Higbie of the UCLA History Department.

Thursday, October 13, 2016, 3:15 PM

Dreams, traumas, and alternate realities; Uncovering and preserving the narratives of Iraqi refugees and migrants (Panel)


There is a growing community of Iraqis in the United States. This community consists of different waves of migrants and refugees that fled Iraq in response to the different tragic episodes of recent Iraqi history. Whether it was the rise of a brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, or as a result of the 1991 Gulf War, or the ensuing sanctions regime that devastated the Iraqi population, or the most recent invasion, occupation, and devastation that followed, each event created a new wave of refugees and migrants. The result is the emergence of an extensive transnational Iraqi community that spans the globe including different parts of the United States. These communities in addition to representing different segments of Iraqi society, were part of social movements, grassroots organizations, political parties and other civil society groups who had to flee or migrate due to the repression they faced because of the very ideas that they held. Indeed, each community is a dossier of lost dreams, histories of a world otherwise.

This panel consists of four founding members of the Iraqi Oral History project. Still in its first year, the project has grown nationally with participants across the United States. The project started as an effort to collect broadly the stories and historical artifacts of Iraqis living in the United States. The four papers will present some of the themes collected from the oral histories as well as reflect on the very process of collecting these stories. The panel will have these overarching questions: 1. How does war and state repression foment communal mistrust and breakdown social solidarities? 2. What are the consequences of being a refugee on one’s political subjectivity? 3. What are the consequences of uncovering hidden stories about a distant birthplace for second and third generation individuals who are taking part in the oral history research?

Friday, October 14, 2016 2:15 PM

The Trailblazing Australian Women Lawyers Oral History Project: interdisciplinary approaches to collecting and interpreting women’s narratives of lives in the law (Panel)

Kim Rubenstein, Principle Investigator, The Trailblazing Women and the Law Project


The Trailblazing Women and the Law (TBWL) Project funded, in part, by the Australian Research Council, will create, showcase and analyse the oral history of seven decades of Australia’s pioneer, ‘trailblazing’, women lawyers. The TBWL Project features over 50 whole of life oral histories and an online exhibition, featuring the biographical details of over 300 women nominated as trailblazers and significant contributors to law and society in Australia. The project brings together the interdisciplinary fields of gender, oral history, biography, digital humanities, social and cultural informatics,law and citizenship and explores how women’s gendered, classed and racialized identities shape their personal, public and professional lives. This panel will discuss the various methodological and ethical issues the research team has encountered in the course of the three year project, and will demonstrate the range of outcomes relevant to legal history, oral history theory and digital humanities that have been produced across the life of the three year project.

Saturday, October 15, 2016 8:30 AM

Oral History Education and Reconciliation: International Reflections on Curriculum and Pedagogy



The theme of this panel responds to this time of reconciliation, when the telling and hearing the stories of lived experiences of harm are pivotal to struggles for an equitable future. Historical narratives, inclusive of peoples’ everyday voices, serve a public pedagogical function that can be transformative for law, policy, and citizenship. Government commissions, the judicial system, and para-public institutions seek oral histories in an effort to redress harm (e.g. Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission, There is an international movement to draw upon oral histories in processes of redress of segregation, apartheid, forced migration, genocide, and other human rights abuses (e.g. Henderson & Wakeham, 2013). Educators have sought to reconceptualize (and not without limits) the curricular and pedagogical ways in which history is now taught inside and outside of public schools (e.g. Smith, 1999; Stearns et al., 2000; Levstik & Barton, 2011; Sandwell & Von Heyking, 2014). In a sense such changes during these times of reconciliation are working toward storying a different kind of (national) historical consciousness. Responding to these shifting historical and contemporary disciplinary contexts, a number of scholars and history educators have and continue to argue that the role of history education is less about instilling knowledge of historical particulars–events, persons and dates–and more about developing “historical consciousness” amongst young people (see Sexias, 2004). And yet, how are historians, history educators, and more broadly speaking educational researchers drawing on oral history research to address the curricular and pedagogical debates in terms of teaching history as praxis for storying the difficult knowledge of our past? And, how does oral history education lend itself to the potential redress of historical harms? This panel addresses these questions from international contexts and by providing specific examples of the intersections of oral history, reconciliation, and curricular/pedagogical innovation.

Saturday, October 15, 2015 10:15 AM

Approaches to Oral History in Latin America, Portugal, and Spain (Roundtable)


The Palgrave Studies in Oral History has just published Memory, Subjectivities, and Representation: Approaches to Oral History in Latin America, Portugal, and Spain, a collection of eleven original essays written in Spanish, Portuguese and English. The Series’ first volume of translated essays, the book crosses linguistic, disciplinary, and interpretive boundaries, showing a range of approaches to the analysis and presentation of oral material. Themes include: collective and individual memory, construction of individual subjectivities, visual representations of oral narratives, memories of war and political activism, women’s narratives, emotions and memory, migration, sex work, pedagogical uses of oral history, tattoos as auto-bio-graphical inscriptions, reshaping national narratives, and oral history performance. Rina Benmayor (US) – coeditor. Interdisciplinarity and the importance of translation. Pilar Dominguez (Spain) – coeditor and author. Individual and collective memory among trade union workers in Spain at the end of the Franco dictatorship. Joana Maria Pedro (Brazil) – author. Gendered narratives of former women militants in revolutionary movements in the Southern Cone. Miren Llona (Spain) – author. Emotions and “enclaves of memory,” in the narrative of a Basque nationalist woman. Joana Craveiro (Portugal) – author. The use of oral histories, archival documentation, and audience discussion in a performance-lecutre piece on the 1975 Carnation Revolution in Portugal.

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