As part of Columbia University’s Summer Workshop Series on Anti-Oppression and Oral History, Princeton Arts Fellow and Lecturer in Creative Writing Nyssa Chow leads a workshop on “Listening for Embodied Knowledge: An Approach to the Oral History Interview.”

What does it mean to have BIPOC voices at the center of our practice—what are we inviting them to speak on, or claim authority over? We know that oral history has the ability to document the experiences of BIPOC life, but can our approach to the interview go beyond the chronicling of what has happened to them? Can we also prioritize and harness oral history’s potential to record, elevate, and assert ‘ways of being’ and ‘ways of knowing’ our shared world that have been historically delegitimized and overlooked? Our embodied experiences are also our particular expertise on the world. The reality of BIPOC life becomes a particular education, one that shapes unique strategies of surviving and thriving; of sense-making; ways of seeing, interpreting, and “reading” the moments, politics, and interactions of daily life—it is embodied knowledge, embodied authority. How can our practice better ‘hear’ and legitimize embodied knowledge(s)? In this workshop we will consider the oral history interview as an ‘act of translation’, an approach that permissions the narrator to be both the ‘teller’ of their story, and also the first interpreter of their lived experience. We will discuss forms of un-hearing that can interrupt this process; reflect on the making and un-making of agency and authority in the interview by introducing both the language and concept of permission; and consider the oral history encounter as a ‘space of remembering’ and translation.

The workshop is free and open to all. Registration is required. Register for the workshop on Eventbrite

Presented By

  • Oral History Association

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