The principles of allyship for oral historians

Anti-Oppression PSN Series Chat #2: The principles of allyship for oral historians

Tuesday, October 21st
1:00 - 2:15pm EST

There is a max of 7 spots available for this Video Chat. To participate, register via EventBrite using the button below. We ask participants to make a sliding scale donation of $3-$10 to reserve your spot. Groundswell members participate for free.  Click here to join Groundswell and get your PSN "promo" code.

Eventbrite - Anti-Oppression PSN Series Video Chat #2: The principles of allyship for oral historians


  • David Spataro, Activist & Scholar
  • Shane Bernardo, Detroit Asian Youth Project and EarthWorks

Allyship is a fundamental concept in anti-oppression organizing, and it has become especially important in projects where organizers are situated in different positions within the structure of race, class, gender, and sexuality oppression. In this PSN chat we will talk about how the concept of allyship fits (or does not fit) within the context of an oral history project. In the instances where oral historians have access to different sources of privilege and power (institutional funding, educational privilege, mobility, white skin privilege and so forth), do the principles of allyship help to make oral history projects stronger? Finally, we will also explore criticisms of the ‘ally industrial complex,’ talk about the shortcomings of the misuse and overuse of allyship, and look at recent calls for people with privilege to become ‘accomplices’ not allies.

Groundswell’s Practitioner Support Network (PSN) and Anti-Oppression working groups are teaming up this Fall 2014 to offer a 5-part  “anti-oppression and oral history” PSN chat series. Each chat will look at one specific moment in the process of doing oral history and consider how an anti-oppression approach impacts our practice: 

  1. Anti-oppression after collecting your interviews
  2. The principles of allyship for oral historians
  3. Building anti-oppression principles and practices into your project at the design/proposal stage
  4. Before recording begins: using anti-oppression in the pre-interview process
  5. Power dynamics and anti-oppression within the space of the interview

Ultimately, we aim to create a textual resource (medium to be determined) aimed at social justice oral historians. The PSN series will give us a strong sense of the kinds of questions that oral historians are asking with regards to anti-oppression work. We would like for this document to be something of a handbook for incorporating anti-oppression into the entire oral history project from start to finish.