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Summer Workshop Series on Anti-Oppression and Oral History

The Oral History Association is proud to partner with the Columbia Oral History Master of Arts Program to present a summer workshop series on Anti-Oppression and Oral History. This series will consist of five virtual workshops: an introduction to an anti-oppression approach to oral history work, and four follow up workshops exploring project design, interviewing, and transcription from an anti-racist and decolonial perspective.

The workshops are free and open to the public- though please consider donating to cover the costs of the facilitators. Any donations that go beyond covering these costs will be used to support a Black incoming OHMA student.

For more information: http://oralhistory.columbia.edu/blog-posts/summer-workshop-series-on-anti-oppression-and-oral-history

To register: https://www.eventbrite.com/o/columbia-oral-history-ma-program-3604748837

SERIES AT A GLANCE

July 25, 2020, 1:00 – 4:00 PM
Identifying Patterns: How Oppression and Abuse May Show Up in Oral History
Noor Alzamami and K.K. Hammond

August 7, 2020, 3:00 – 6:00 PM
Amplifying Oral Histories of Resistance
Sara Sinclair

August 13, 2020, 1:00 – 4:00 PM
Listening for Embodied Knowledge: An Approach to the Oral History Interview
Nyssa Chow

August 22, 2020, 4:00 – 7:00 PM
Talking White: An Anti-Oppression View Towards Transcribing Black Narrators
Alissa Rae Funderburk

August 27, 2020, 1:00 – 4:00 PM
Decentering Dominance: Language Justice in the Field
Fernanda Espinosa

*All times are listed in Eastern Standard Time

 

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OHA Highlight: 2020 Emerging Crisis Winners- Ricia Chansky and Sierra Holt

The OHA congratulates our 2020 Emerging Crisis Research Fund Winners:

    • Ricia Chansky’s “Mi María” project is a large-scale public humanities project that uses oral history and other biographical methodologies—contextualized in critical disaster studies and environmental humanities—to study the impacts of Hurricane María on the people of Puerto Rico while working to resituate the national narrative from stories about the people to those by the people. This new phase of the project, “Sheltered in Place,” works to understand connections between the climate emergency and the public health crisis of Covid-19 in marginalized and underserved communities that are disproportionately impacted by both. A secondary objective of this project is to devise methods for creatively listening to and circulating life stories in a time of necessitated physical distancing.
    • Sierra Holt’s project is to produce an oral history of the descendants of the community who live in or near Lambert Lands. Lambert Lands became the home of newly emancipated people from Bedford County, Virginia in 1843. After establishing their settlement, this group obtained a deed, built a church, and developed the oldest Emancipation celebration, which continues today. They also were a stopping point for those escaping slavery in the South.  Since its creation, the legacy of Lambert Lands has continued despite threats of violence from the Klu Klux Klan, growing poverty in Appalachia, and numerous drug epidemics.  To fully comprehend the history of this community, Holt will also research and interview distant relatives who hold knowledge of the community’s origins in Bedford County, Virginia. For preservation, the results of these interviews will be donated to a library or archive housed at an academic institution or museum, particularly one that is focused on Southern and/or Appalachian Black history.

 

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Executive Director’s Column

By Kristine McCusker
June 2020

             Greetings from the Executive Office as we all continue to social distance and work from home. Middle Tennessee State University has reopened a bit, but with the high rates of covid in Rutherford County, we decided we would wait until the numbers fell before reconvening in our campus office. If you try to reach us, it’s still best to email us at gro.y1618944221rotsi1618944221hlaro1618944221@AHO1618944221 at least until August.

By now, you have read President Allison Tracy-Taylor’s column informing you of the switch from a face-to-face conference to an all-virtual one. This was a necessary step, given the coronavirus uncertainties and our unwillingness to put our membership in unsafe situations.          Thankfully, we have the good advice from the American Council of Learned Societies and the experience of other professional organizations to guide us in our negotiations with our conference hotel in Baltimore. That expertise guided our successful renegotiation of the contract with no financial penalties. We are grateful to our peer institutions for their good advice throughout these difficult months.

Thanks to Louis Kyriakoudes, OHA’s co-executive director, we have also been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities grant for more than $43,000. This has been Louis’ covid-quarantine project: to see what money the federal CARES and other legislative acts might have to help us weather the economic downturn associated with the virus. The NEH money will pay for some employment costs as well as assist us in putting on the virtual conference.

Finally, we are grateful to Vice President Dan Kerr, Program Co-Chairs Kelly Navies and Shana Farrell and Local Arrangements Co-Chairs Catherine Mayfield and Linda Shopes for their hard work on submitting a $10,000 grant to the Maryland Humanities Council. While they were not successful (covid was the culprit here), we’re grateful for their efforts in writing this grant.

 

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President’s Letter

June 25, 2020

Greetings, all.  I’m writing to give you a brief but important update on our 2020 Annual Meeting.

For the safety and well-being of presenters and attendees, we’ve decided to forego our traditional in-person conference this fall and are shifting to a virtual format. Registration will be delayed a bit, but please know we’re working diligently to open it. Sessions will be held primarily on Zoom. The program schedule is still being developed, and the Program Committee will provide presenters and attendees information and instructions on how to participate in virtual sessions.

We still plan to hold our keynote address, plenaries, pre-conference workshops, business meeting and networking events, as well as provide access to virtual tours. As information on these events and how to participate virtually becomes available, I will let the membership know.       Finally, in accordance with Maryland social-distancing orders, we also plan to offer regionally oriented in-person programming in Baltimore in October. Expect more information on these events soon.

We are working with the Hyatt Regency Hotel to rebook our meeting there for 2023, and we look forward to experiencing the city of Baltimore then.

I’m also happy to announce the OHA has been awarded a CARES Act Grant of $43,460 from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The grant will support staff salaries and allow us to host a curated collection of sessions and events from the 2020 Annual Meeting on our website.

There are more updates and information to come, and I thank you for your patience as we work to shift the meeting to a virtual one. This is uncharted territory for us, but I’m confident the 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting will be engaging and enriching.

Beyond this, I hope you all are staying safe and sane.

Best,

Allison K. Tracy-Taylor
OHA President

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OHA Statement on the Killing of George Floyd and Solidarity with Black Lives Matter

June 5, 2020

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was killed by a member of the Minneapolis Police Department. Following Mr. Floyd’s death, protests and calls for change and an end to police brutality have risen throughout the United States and internationally. The Oral History Association stands in solidarity with the family of Mr. Floyd, Black Lives Matter, protestors, and communities of color, and we echo this call for change. The killing of George Floyd is not an isolated incident, but another event in a long history of state violence and brutality toward people of color in the United States—a history that predates our country itself.

Institutionalized white supremacy is a disturbingly prominent part of American history, placing barriers to economic, social, and educational equality and creating a criminal justice system which is deeply punitive towards Black Americans. Further, militarized police actions that threaten a free press and freedom of assembly have worked to create a terrible legacy of violence and suppression towards those working to change this country.

As oral historians, we understand that through the stories of people—citizens and activists—we can confront oppression and work to create an equitable and just society. In our commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and respect, and to a historical record that documents the experiences of unheard and marginalized voices, we must listen to and amplify the demands of people and communities of color. We must continue to document and expose the injustice so many have suffered for centuries, and develop new projects to expand these efforts.

In this work, it is essential we adopt anti-racist methods and practices. Further, we can and must work to address institutional racism in our institutions and our field, through developing and supporting leaders of color, providing anti-oppression training, and continually working to center the voices and experiences of those most directly impacted by oppression. People of color, whether they be colleagues, narrators, students, or patrons, must be supported and valued. Historical knowledge around police brutality and systemic racism is essential to addressing both, but Black and Brown people must have a clear, equal, and respected role in developing this knowledge.  

Many of our members have dedicated their careers to documenting stories of democratic citizen action and how these efforts can enact change. We have a responsibility to understand and celebrate these successful efforts, and to engage in this work ourselves. There are a number of ways we can support current protests and calls for justice: register to vote, sign petitions, support protestors or participate in protests ourselves, donate to groups and funds working to end police violence and systemic racism, call our legislators, and educate ourselves.

As Black Americans and those acting in allyship in our communities, states, and country engage in difficult and transformative work to end police violence and racism, work that will continue long after the current moment, we are committed to supporting them and participating, now and in the future. Black Lives Matter.

The following organizations have endorsed this statement:

Baylor University Institute for Oral History
Columbia University Oral History Master of Arts Program and
Columbia Center for Oral History Research
Oral History Archives at Columbia
Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic (OHMAR)
Texas Oral History Association (TOHA)
UNT Oral History Program
UW-Madison Oral History Program

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Highlight: OHA 2019 Diversity Scholarship Award Winner- Anahí Naranjo

Anahí Naranjo Jara is an environmental justice advocate and storyteller from Quito, Ecuador. Anahí is using oral history to highlight the resilience of communities on the frontlines of environmental and social injustices historically silenced in dominant discourses.  Her Pachamama Oral History Project “aims to elevate and center agrarian indigenous individuals in the Ecuadorian Andes to highlight the impact of climate change on the physical and cultural landscape of the region.”

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Update from the OHA President

5-15-2020

I’m writing to update you on the Oral History Association’s continued response to COVID-19, especially as it relates to the annual meeting.

First, as shelter-in-place orders begin to lift or relax within parts of the United States and internationally, it will be a challenge for all of us to navigate shifts (or the lack thereof) in our work and home lives, in those of our loved ones, and in our communities. As I stressed before, following social distancing guidelines, including wearing a face mask, is as important as ever. I will say I have been dismayed to see not only COVID-19 disproportionately impact vulnerable communities in terms of infection rates, death, and economic impact, but also the lack of response from local and state officials in some parts of the country to combat this. I want to take a moment to highlight the OHA’s Statement on Diversity and Inclusivity. Though our ability to practice oral history in these times may be limited, our commitment to respect, inclusivity, equality, and dignity has not wavered. As we negotiate these times, centering the well-being of our fellow humans is and will continue to be essential. 

Second, work continues on our 2020 Annual Meeting, though admittedly it looks increasingly different from previous years. Typically we open our conference registration portal in May, but we’ve decided to postpone registration. There are many unknowns that we are still working through, and given this we feel we need more information and decisions in place before we can begin registration. We hope to open the portal later in June, but if there are any delays, I will let you know as soon as possible. I thank you all for your patience on this. 

Unfortunately, it is also still not yet clear what direction the meeting will take, whether all in-person, all virtual, or a combination. As projected timelines for when large group gatherings can resume only increase, though, we know the likelihood of having an all-virtual meeting increases. Accordingly, we’ve taken multiple steps to begin concrete planning for this possibility. This includes convening the Virtual Meeting Task Force to assist the Program Committee and Local Arrangements Committee with planning the annual meeting. This task force is assisting in a variety of ways, from reviewing available best practices for virtual meetings, to assessing potential digital platforms, to thinking about how we maintain essential aspects of any meeting, like networking. All these capable people are also continuing to develop the meeting program. Sessions, plenaries, the keynote address, workshops, tours, and networking events all will be held no matter what direction the meeting takes. One important tradition at our meetings is honoring the annual award winners. And fortunately there is still time to get in applications! The current deadline is June 1, and you can find more information about the awards and how to apply here. The Call for Posters is still open as well. This would be a great way to feature any recently started projects or efforts.

As we continue to plan, we need your help. The Program Committee, the Local Arrangements Committee, and the Executive Office have developed a survey about the annual meeting. You can access it here, and I hope you will take it. It will help us assess considerations related to an in-person vs. virtual meeting, travel restrictions, registrations costs, potential digital platforms, and the recording/accessibility of sessions. All of this information will be vital in our work, especially as we continue to navigate so many unknowns. 

Finally, as this crisis wears on and getting back to “normal” seems more distant by the day, it’s understandable our sense of well-being may erode. In my own self-care efforts, I have found a few things helpful, including these tips on self-holds, the New York Times At-Home special section, Zoom happy hours, meal planning to limit grocery store trips and nourish my body, and daily walks. What self-care means for everyone is different, but I’m mentioning it again because I sincerely hope you have space in your day for it. It helps sustain us (something very different from increasing productivity, which is a pressure I encourage you to say “No, thank you,” to), and it helps us to be present for ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities.

I’ll be in touch soon. Please stay safe and take care.

Best,

Allison K. Tracy-Taylor
OHA President

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Executive Director’s Report

By Kristine McCusker

            This has been a trying few months for everyone, and we hope you are all staying safe. As we have been hunkered down and working remotely, the Executive Office and the Council have found new ways to serve our membership while at the same time gathering information and building new foundations that will stabilize us in difficult times.

            We have conducted or co-conducted two webinars, for example. Thanks again to our friends at the Baylor Institute for Oral History for our co-sponsored and quite timely webinar on remote oral interviewing in early April. Thanks, as well, to our friends at the American Folklore Society for our co-sponsored webinar on Fieldwork and Digital Audio Technology held on May 1. Remember that webinars are always free for our members and can be accessed behind the paywall. We also hope you will sign up for future “check-ins,” as some did with OHA President Allison Tracy-Taylor in April.

            In the meantime, Kris and Louis, the organization’s co-directors, have been gathering information from sources such as the American Council of Learned Societies and other professional, nonprofit societies to make sure we move forward with the least amount of disruption.

            We have consulted the ACLS attorney to make sure that the organization is protected legally and financially. This has helped us generate both a risk assessment for the organization as well as a long-term disaster plan that will account not only for pandemics, but for labor strikes, weather disasters and other disruptive activities that could do us harm.

            We also have applied for money from humanities organizations, the CARES act and other governmental sources to make sure that any financial hits we take will be weathered by these other sources of aid. 

            As always, please let us know if there is anything the Executive Office can do to help.

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President’s Column

By Allison K. Tracy-Taylor

            I’m writing to keep you updated on the various ways the OHA is responding to the COVID-19 epidemic. This is an evolving situation requiring work in a number of areas. By beginning work now, we hope to get ahead of and mitigate negative impacts on the Association and our membership.

            First, let me say I hope you all are staying safe. The seriousness of COVID-19 cannot be overstated. Further, state and federal guidelines on social distancing have impacted many of us in profound ways, the full extent of which we won’t understand for weeks or months, even years. The health and well-being of you and your communities is of the highest priority. I ask you to follow all local and national orders on sheltering in place and social distancing, and I encourage you, as you are able, to prioritize self-care and care for your families and communities.

            Second, we are continuing with planning for our 2020 Annual Meeting in Baltimore. It is our sincere hope the current crisis will resolve enough to allow us to move forward with the meeting as planned. It is shaping up to be an exciting and dynamic meeting.

            The Program Committee has been hard at work reviewing session proposals, and acceptance notifications will go out soon. The Call for Posters is now open, and scholarship applications are also available. We have pushed back the scholarship application deadline to June 10, 2020, and notifications will go out in July. We encourage you to plan for the meeting as you would in any other year, though please review and follow the CDC’s guidelines on travel. It’s also best to not make nonrefundable travel arrangements at this time.

            Understanding there are many unknowns in this situation, we have also begun a risk assessment of COVID-19 and the economic implications stemming from it for the Association. For the annual meeting, there are a number of scenarios being considered, including the possibility, if meeting face to face is not safe or feasible, of holding a virtual meeting. These discussions are in early stages, and we are committed to communicating with the membership and meeting attendees about these discussions often and in a timely manner.

            We are also developing a longer-term emergency plan for the Association. This plan will cover a number of scenarios, and I imagine by the end of 2020 our section on how to respond to pandemics will be particularly robust.

            As oral historians, in these times of social distancing, we’ve had to reevaluate the how and why of face-to-face interviewing. A number of resources around this issue have been developed that I’d like to share with you.

            First, the Association was fortunate to partner with Baylor University’s Institute for Oral History to hold a webinar on remote interviewing. If you were unable to attend, we’ve made available the recording of the webinar, the slides, and additional resources pulled from the webinar chat, as well as a summary of the webinar’s recommendations.

            The Vermont Folklife Center has also put out helpful tips on remote interviewing, and this week the Oral History Society released substantive advice on remote interviewing. Finally, Sarah Dziedzic (who has worn many hats in the Association, including currently serving as co-chair for the Independent Practitioners Task Force) has written an essay on oral history, immunodeficiency and disability justice. I hope you’ll take a moment to read it.

            The Association is also working to develop further guidelines and resources around remote interviewing and we hope to distribute these soon. As resources in other areas impacting our community become available, the Association will work to highlight and connect our membership to them. If there are resources you find particularly useful or topics on which you’d like to see more resources, please reach out to the office. If you’re interested and available to help us curate resources in a particular area, please let us know.

            I’ll be in touch soon and regularly. Please stay safe and take care.

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Webinar: Fieldwork and Digital Audio Technology: What to Know before You Go

The Oral History Association and the American Folklore Society present the next in their series of webinar:

Fieldwork and Digital Audio Technology: What to Know before You Go

May 1, 2020
1:00pm-2:30pm EST

Leaders: John Fenn (American Folklife Center) and Andy Kolovos (Vermont Folklife Center)

This interactive webinar will provide beginning and seasoned fieldworkers alike with strategies and approaches for integrating digital audio capture technologies into their cultural documentation efforts. Given the rapid rate at which digital technologies and equipment change in the consumer world, it can be challenging to figure out what you want versus what you need. From complex jargon to varying definitions of “quality” and “resolution,” there can be a lot to know—and it is easy to get lost in the world of audio recording options.The webinar leaders will emphasize some of the key factors to be aware of when planning for the use of digital fieldwork equipment, and will offer a range of tips and questions to consider. We hope to demystify the process of choosing and using digital audio equipment for ethnographic fieldwork and oral history interviewing, so in addition to discussing some of the basic technological aspects we will discuss a few recording scenarios common to this type of work. 

Social distancing complicates face-to-face interviewing and fieldwork activity that involves audio recording, so in light of the risks posed by the coronavirus/COVID-19 to fieldworkers and participants alike we will explore options for remote audio capture. We will try to account for smartphone-based options as well as those available via personal computers, including both asynchronous and real-time interviewing.​


Free to OHA and AFS members. Nonmember fee is $75.

AFS Members can get the discount code and registration instructions here.

Seating is limited so sign up soon! Register Here: oha.memberclicks.net/fieldworkdigitaltechnology-webinar

Please email gro.y1618944221rotsi1618944221hlaro1618944221@aho1618944221 with any questions.

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