From the headlines of local newspapers to the coverage of major media outlets, scenes of war, natural disaster, political revolution and ethnic repression greet readers and viewers at every turn. What we often fail to grasp, however, despite numerous treatments of events is the deep meaning and broader significance of crisis and disaster. The complexity and texture of these situations are most evident in the broader personal stories of those whom the events impact most intimately. Oral history, with its focus on listening and collaborative creation with participants, has emerged as a forceful approach to exploring the human experience of crisis.
Despite the recent growth of crisis oral history fieldwork, there has been little formal discussion of the process and meaning of utilizing oral history in these environments. Oral history research takes on special dimensions when working in highly charged situations often in close proximity to traumatic events. The emergent inclination for oral historians to respond to document crisis calls for a shared conversation among scholars as to what we have learned from crisis work so far. This dialogue, at the heart of this collection of oral history excerpts and essays, reveals new layers of the work of the oral historian. From the perspective of crisis and disaster oral history, the book addresses both the ways in which we think about the craft of oral hsitory, and the manner in which we use it.
The book presents excerpts from oral histories done after twelve world crises, followed by critical analyses by the interviewers. Additional analytical chapters set the interviews in the contexts of pyschoanalysis and oral history methodology.
About the Author
Mark Cave is Senior Curator and Oral Historian, The Historic New Orleans Collection.
Stephen M. Sloan is Assistant Professor of history and director, Institute for Oral History; Baylor University.
Table of Contents
Introduction: What Remains: Reflections on Crisis Oral History, Mark Cave
Part I: Clamor
1. When All is Lost: Metanarrative in the Oral History of Hanifa, Survivor of Srebrenica, Selma Leydesdorff
Oral history by Selma Leydesdorff with "Hanifa," Refugee camp, East Bosnia, April 2004
2. "To Dream My Family Tonight": Listening to Stories of Grief and Hope among Hazaras Refugees in Australia,
Oral histories by Denise Phillips with Reza and Juma, Brisbane and Melbourne, Australia, 2004-2011
3. Exhuming the Self: Trauma and Student Survivors of the Shootings at Virginia Tech, Tamara Kennelly and Susan E. Fleming-Cook
Oral histories by Susan E. Fleming Cook with Yang Kim, Derek O'Dell, and Kristina Heeger-Anderson, Blacksburg, Virginia, 2009-2010
4. Talking Cure: Trauma, Narrative, and the Cuban Rafter Crisis, Elizabeth Campisi
Oral histories by Elizabeth Campisi with Cuban Rafter Crisis survivors conducted in Miami, Florida, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Rochester, New York, 1998-2001
5. In the Ghost Forest: Listening to Tutsi Rescapés, Taylor Krauss
Oral histories by Taylor Krauss with Rwandan Rescapés, Kigali, Rwanda, 2007-2008.
6. The Continuing and Unfinished Present: Oral History and Psychoanalysis in the Aftermath of Terror, Ghislaine Boulanger
Part II: Resonance
7. Unlocked: Perspective and the New Orleans Prison Evacuation Crisis, Mark Cave
Oral histories by Mark Cave with members of the Louisiana Department of Corrections, Angola, Pineville, and Keithville, Louisiana, March 23 and 24, June 17 and 18, 2009
8. Living Too in Murder City: Oral History as Alternative Perspective to the Drug War in Ciudad Juarez, Eric Meringer
Oral histories by Eric Rodrigo Meringer with Juárez residents Jonathan, Rosa and Raul, Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, 2009-2010
9. Until Our Last Breath: Voices of Poisoned Workers in China, Karin Mak
Oral histories by Karin Mak with "Ren," "Min," "Fu," and "Wu," Huizhou, Guangdong and rural Sichuan, China, August and September, 2007
10. Woven Together: Attachment to Place in the Aftermath of Disaster, Perspectives from Four Continents,
Eleonora Rohland, Maike Böcker, Gitte Cullmann, Ingo Haltermann, Franz Mauelshagen
Oral histories by Eleonora Rohland, Maike Böcker, Gitte Cullmann, and Ingo Haltermann with residents of New Orleans, Louisiana; Accra, Ghana; eastern Brandenburg, Germany; and Chaitén, Chile, 2009-2010
11. Smile Through the Tears: Life, Art, and the Rwandan Genocide, Steven High
Oral history by Jessica Silva with Rupert Bazambanza, Montreal, Canada, June 3 and 12 and July 6, 2008
12. A Spiritual War: Crises of Faith in Combat Chaplains from Iraq and Afghanistan, David Peters
Interviews by David W. Peters with "Christina," "Michael," "Timothy," "Craig," and "George," Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC, 2011
13. A Long Song: Oral History in the Time of Emergency and After, Mary Marshall Clark
Oral histories by Gerry Albarelli and Temma Kaplan with Mohammad Bilal-Mizra, Talat Hamdani, Zaheer Jaffery, Salman Jaffery, and Zohra Saed, New York City, October 2001 to June 2005
Conclusion: The Fabric of Crisis: Approaching the Heart of Oral History, Stephen Sloan