Fall 2024 Human Rights: Oral History GR5555 section 002

Oral History & Justice: Memory, Power, a


Call Number 13851
Day & Time
T 2:10pm-4:00pm
To be announced
Points 4
Grading Mode Standard
Approvals Required None
Instructor Suchitra Vijayan
Method of Instruction In-Person
Course Description

This course will explore the ethics and politics of using oral history methods for documenting injustice, oppression, and human rights issues. The course is open to graduate students of oral history, human rights, journalism, and related fields; no prior experience with oral history interviewing is required. Oral history can be a powerful means of documenting oppression, human rights abuses, and crisis “from the bottom up” and facilitating the understanding and possible transformation of conditions of injustice. It can open the space for people and narratives that have been marginalized to challenge official narratives and complicate narrow accounts of injustice and crisis. The course will first explore what is distinct about oral history as a response to harm or injustice, comparing it to more familiar forms of testimony and narrative used within the realm of human rights, social justice organizations and courts of law. With its commitment to life narrative interviews and archival preservation, oral history situates injustice within the broader context of a life, a historical trajectory, and a political and cultural setting. Weaving together conceptual and practical approaches, we will examine different potential goals of oral history, such as documenting the experiences of people who have been marginalized; seeking justice; fostering dialogue and healing; and/or supporting activism and advocacy. The course covers interviewing skills and project planning specifically for oral history projects about injustice and human rights, and explores various dimensions of how power, politics, and ethics come into play — how politics and power shape the way a narrative is heard; the challenges of realizing ideals of collaboration and shared authority amid uneven power dynamics; contending with the effects of trauma on both narrators and interviewers; and critical considerations for projects produced with activist and advocacy aims. We will explore how oral history can work alongside other forms of memory and witnessing that go beyond words, such as activism, film, and memorials.

Web Site Vergil
Department Oral History
Enrollment 6 students (18 max) as of 10:07AM Sunday, July 14, 2024
Subject Human Rights: Oral History
Number GR5555
Section 002
Division Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Note OHMA/HRSMA priority or instructor permission
Section key 20243HROH5555G002