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Jun 13, 2010 at 8:00 pm
Now & Later: Oral History in Present & Future Tense
With Suzanne Snider
Please join us as a group of diverse panelists discuss how and why they use oral history in their fields, including human rights, public health, radio, and more. We know that oral history is a rich source of “future history,” but how is oral history transformative in the present moment, for interviewer, interviewee, and audience?
Collectively, the panel will cover some of oral history’s therapeutic, historical, social, and political applications.
Stacy Parker Aab has worked on The Katrina Experience since August of 2005, when she began taking oral histories from evacuees who stayed at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, TX. As of March 2008, she has interviewed over 125 survivors and those who came to their need, traveling through Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and points north to do so. In addition to her work on The Katrina Experience, she served as primary contributor and project coordinator to Voices from the Storm: The People of New Orleans on Hurricane Katrina and Its Aftermath.(McSweeney’s). Stacy is the author of a memoir about what it was like to be young and female working in the White House, entitled Government Girl (Ecco/HarperCollins). She also writes political and social commentary for The Huffington Post. She lives in New York City.
Michael Garofalo joined StoryCorps in early 2004, shortly after the project launched. He has recorded hundreds of interviews across the country in StoryCorps’ recording booths as well as in the field. As a member of the Peabody Award (2006) winning production team, Michael has had a hand in creating nearly all of the project’s content — from producing StoryCorps’ weekly national broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition and hosting the podcast, to contributing to the first StoryCorps book, to co-producing an series of animated shorts to premiere on PBS’ POV in summer 2010. Michael also makes music using radios—among other things—as a member of the electro-acoustic trio Latitude/Longitude. He is a Transmission Artist with the nonprofit arts organization free103point9.
Rachael Weiss is project head of the Newtown Creek Community Health and Harms Narrative Project (CHHNP), which aims to interview residents in communities surrounding the Newtown Creek (i.e., Greenpoint, East Williamsburg and Maspeth) about environmental burdens in their neighborhood and associated health problems. The interviews will be thematically analyzed and disseminated in a comprehensive report with additional historical, environmental, and health data from various secondary sources. In addition, audio clips and transcripts will be available to the public on an environmental justice/community mapping Web site HabitatMap. Ultimately, the goal of the CHHNP is to add a personal face to the environmental burdens of those living near the Newtown Creek, which can hopefully assist in community empowerment and advocacy. Rachael is a graduate student in the CUNY Doctor of Public Health Program at the Graduate Center.
Agnes Umunna (Straight From the Heart, Liberia) is a Journalist, Radio Producer/Presenter and Community Activist. She helps to record stories from survivors of the war in Liberia and see how best we can talk about the trauma they have gone through during the 14 years of war. As Executive Director and founder of Straight from the Heart Project, she used the project to engage victims, witnesses and perpetrators of the Liberian conflicts, and established it as a Non-Governmental and Not-For-Profit Media network that engages in nationwide advocacy program on radio, for War Victims to voluntarily give accounts of their participation in the Liberian conflict.
Suzanne Snider is a frequent contributor to The Believer and several literary journals. She has contributed podcasts to The Guardian and co-curates the weekly nonfiction series, TRUE STORY. At the New School and NYU, she teaches nonfiction writing, documentary experiments, oral history, and song hunting courses. This year, she received a fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute to initiate an oral history project on presses founded and run by women between 1960 and 1985, and is currently completing a book about two rival communes on adjacent land.