I interviewed Jeni Ashton, from the National Law Enforcement Museum, about the museum's oral history program for Plinth Magazine's June 2014 issue. If you're interested in how oral histories can be used in a museum setting, please check it out! The article is entitled, "Building Bridges with Stories: The National Law Enforcement Museum Uses Oral History to Connect to Citizenry."
I am co-facilitating a chat concerning the ethics of oral history online archiving. Please register through Groundswell if you're interested!
What are the benefits and risks of publicly available online archives for oral history interviews?
The internet can be a valuable tool in connecting the public to oral histories like never before, but like any tool, it has potential for misuse. During this chat, we hope to explore the practical and ethical issues behind the development and use of online archiving for oral history work. As oral historians, we can share key considerations we’ve had in developing an archive or concerns about what it takes to develop one in the future. As organizers and activists, we can reflect on how online archives influence and impact our ongoing campaigns and movements. As visitors to online archives, we can talk about our experiences in interacting with successful (or not so successful) online archives, and what we can take away from that.
Questions we will explore include: How can we make a more interactive and engaging online archive? What problems have we encountered in building or maintaining an online archive? What are the most important factors to consider in crafting interview release agreements for online archiving? If an interviewee did not agree to online archiving at the time of the interview because the method did not exist then, is it unethical to put the interview online? Can existing websites, such as Wikipedia, be a good repository for oral histories?
Saturday, April 5, 2014, 6:00 pm
The Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY
Free event. Tickets required.
Tickets will be available on April 5, 2014 starting at 5pm at the Brooklyn Museum.
Created in collaboration with 651 ARTS, Brooklyn '63 features Brooklyn-based activists, witnesses and those who have inherited the legacy of a generation of civic action. The piece features Brooklyn residents who share their experiences and perspectives from the early labor movement, the Ocean Hill-Brownsville Teachers Strike, the Downstate Medical Center protests led by Brooklyn CORE, the history of The East in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and a host of events and reminiscences that took place in Brownsville, Ft. Greene, Sheepshead Bay, Coney Island, Williamsburg, Bushwick, and many places in between. Originally premiered at The Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts at Long Island University in May 2013, Brooklyn '63 was also presented in three locations in Brooklyn as part of The BEAT Festival in September 2013. For more information about this show, click here.
Megan Eardley, a friend from my undergraduate days, and her partner Derica Shields are organizing a feminist sci-fi film festival that looks amazing. Posting courtesy of The Future Weird:
THE FUTURE WEIRD: remote control
Wednesday 26th MARCH 2014 @8PM, Spectacle Theater
The Future Weird is back with REMOTE CONTROL, an evening of films concerning witches & bitches – women who see, take, and sell things they cannot grasp. Whether they wield powers to possess, or are somehow controlled, the technologies these films document are deployed without regard for reciprocity or consent.
REMOTE CONTROL is both the loss of individual agency, and the thrilling ability to inhabit another’s body. Presenting weird clips alongside shorts by Zina Saro Wiwa, Elaine Castillo, Fyzal Boulifa, and the U.S. Premiere of TOUCH by Shola Amoo, we’re talking possession, surveillance, “brain to brain interface”, and the sinister compulsion to repurpose the humanoid. Join us on Wednesday 26th March @8PM as we contemplate the human of use of human beings.
More details & RSVP via the Facebook event page
The Future Weird is a screening series dedicated to sci-fi/experimental/weird film by black, African & Third World directors created by Derica Shields & Megan Eardley. Find details of previous programs and follow us here & here.
Lots of oral history and narrative-related events in NYC lately. Post courtesy of Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics:
DECENTERING AUTHORITY: BUILDING A COLLABORATIVE ORAL HISTORY OF MIXED-HERITAGE FAMILIES IN BROOKLYN (AND GETTING COMFORTABLE TALKING ABOUT RACE)
WHO: Sady Sullivan is Director of Oral History at Brooklyn Historical Society where she manages new oral history projects as well as preservation of BHS's oral history collections dating back to 1973. In addition, Sady works with curators and educators at BHS to produce audio for exhibitions, walking tours, and K-12 curricula. Her work is influenced by the Buddhist practice of deep listening, and formative experiences at two feminist institutions: The Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies and Babeland. Sady has radio experience, both pre- and post- podcast era, and Chuck D once said she did a good job on the 1s and 2s. Sady received an MA in Cultural Reporting & Criticism from NYU and a BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Wellesley College.
WHEN: Thursday, March 27, 2014, 6:00pm - 8:00pm.
WHERE: 509 Knox Hall, 606 W. 122nd St.
ABOUT: Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations (cbbg.brooklynhistory.org) is an oral history project exploring the history and experiences of mixed-heritage people and families. Through sharing stories, we open up intergenerational conversations about preserving cultural heritage in a multicultural democracy. These conversations historicize our understanding of concepts like race, ethnicity, and nationality. Inspired by feminist methodology and participatory action research, CBBG is designed to be responsive to the concentric conversations happening among narrators, interviewers, archivists, and the public programming audience, as well as resonating scholarship, activism, and media. Sady Sullivan will share the strengths and challenges of CBBG's experimental project design and the pleasures of hosting forums where people practice talking about race/ethnicity (and intersecting identities) together.
This event is free and open to the public and is part of the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Lecture Series.
Here's an oral history event posting, courtesy of Snorks & Pins:
Episode 1: Who we are - where we are from
Will be presented at Chashama Art Gallery
March 20th, 21st, 24th and 25th at 7:30pm
Manhattanville: Stories from our Neighborhood is a series of performances of oral histories collected from the neighborhood of Manhattanville. We began collecting interviews of long-time Manhattanville residents in March of 2013. The interviews include stories about growing up in the area: tales of families living on the same street for generations, window-to-window language (the unofficial sign language of 135th St.), a Caribbean child’s first experience with snow, the loss of a friend in a gun fight, the meeting of a first love at a dance, gang violence, and five decades of New York history seen from a window now blocked by the new Columbia building. But stories do not stay enclosed by the borders of Manhattanville (122nd to the South, 135th to the North, St. Nicholas Park to the East and the Hudson to the West). Residents have traveled here from near and far. They have left and returned and their stories take you around the world from secret CIA missions in the Vietnam War, to ghosts and witches that haunt a small town in The Dominican Republic, to adventures in New England, to a war officer’s life in a house elevated over a river in Thailand. In this one small neighborhood are lives and histories which are seemingly separated by differences in ages, incomes, ethnicities, educations, but the stories we have collected demonstrate how united we are in our humanity.
Empathy has always been a driving force in the type of work I do. I believe it's the foundation of communication. This beautifully animated short, from a talk social work scholar Dr. Brené Brown gave called "The Power of Vulnerability," explains the difference between empathy and sympathy. I don't know if I agree with everything Dr. Brown states in her argument because I'm still working through what defines empathy myself, but it definitely gave me some food for thought.
Is empathy better than sympathy? Is it always called for in a situation where you're trying to connect with someone? Should we always strive for empathy or are there instances where empathy would be harmful? When Brown uses examples to highlight the differences between empathy and sympathy, her hypothetical situations include situations I have never been in. Would it be proper to empathize with someone then? Would that be helpful to someone? Further, her example of an empathetic response: "I don't know what to say, I'm glad you told me" I think misses the mark of what empathy really is. That response sounds more like sympathy to me.
That all said, it's important to think through these types of terms--terms that are often thrown around without much weight to them--not simply to set exact parameters to them but to understand what our society means when we use them. So I leave you with the question: What is empathy--to you?