Memory, Ethics, Affect, Trauma: A workshop on doing oral history under difficult circumstances

Please join us for the Memory, Ethics, Affect, Trauma: A workshop on doing oral history under difficult circumstances.

Thursday April 4, 2024
4th Floor Conference Center
UWM Golda Meir Library

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This workshop will bring together students, scholars, and community experts around the topic of collecting, interpreting, and using oral histories and testimonies of people whose histories may be under-represented in mainstream media and scholarly archives. We are interested in discussing the ethics and ethical consideration of collecting oral histories of marginalized and underrepresented people. How do we collect these stories and what moral responsibilities do we hold?

Panelists will explore the emotional dimensions of memory-work, the affective process of engaging with the past—and its ethical and historical dimensions. Some of our panelists have worked with people recounting traumatic memories and difficult histories. What emotional impact does such interactions have on the interviewer and the interviewee? How do emotions impact our ethical role as researchers and historians?

The workshop will begin with short presentations by five panelists. They will speak on difficulties and pitfalls of this methods, ethical and affective imperatives that frame their practice, and offer tips on doing oral history. Then we will break up into moderated small group discussions with the panelists and students. We will end with a general discussion around the importance, implications, and relevance of working with oral histories.

Panelists and Discussion Leaders:

  • Kavita Panjabi, Former Professor and Chair of the Department of Comparative Literature and Founder-Coordinator of the Centre for Studies in Latin American Literatures and Cultures (CSLALC) Jadavpur University, Kolkata.
  • Chia Youyee Vang, Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
  • Lynne M Woehrle, Associate Professor and Director of Sustainable Peacebuilding Programs, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.
  • Portia Cobb, Interdisciplinary artist, Associate Professor, Film, Video, Animation and New Genres, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Director, Community Media Project.
  • Xin Huang, Associate Professor, Department Chair, Women’s and Gender Studies, Oral and Visual Life Narratives. University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.

Moderator: Lynne M Woehrle

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