May PSN: Self-Care for Social Justice Oral Historians

Self-Care for Social Justice Oral Historians

May 26, 2016 1-2:15 PM EST

Eventbrite - Self-Care for Social Justice Oral Historians
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 Columbia University 
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In oral history, deep listening requires the interviewer to open themselves to the narrator's stories. Such stories can be challenging and even painful. We often discuss how to support our narrators in telling difficult stories, but rarely how to take care of ourselves as we listen to them. In this chat we will build on conversations, in both the academic and the activist world, about burnout and resilience. The goal is to share experiences and develop self-care strategies for social justice oral historians.


Vanissa W. Chan is a media artist, educator and community organizer whose passion for the arts is fueled by her work with the People, especially the Youth. Utilizing various mediums to create dialogue and draw attention to pressing sociopolitical issues, her work’s intent is to strengthen communal bridges, assist in storytelling, and shed light upon narratives that are often marginalized and buried under distress and trauma. Vanissa is the co-founder of a growing Long Island coalition against police brutality named the Justice for Kenny Coalition, founded in 2010, two years after the police murder of 24 year old Kenny Lazo. In 2010, with Oja Vincent, Vanissa founded the Alliance of Conscious Documentarians (ACD Media), an independent media collective that works to serve the media needs of marginalized communities.  ACD Media gives media workshops where guerilla media needs implementation.  The last workshop was a 12-week workshop with Picture the Homeless, a non-profit located in the Bronx that was founded and organized by the homeless that strives to develop leadership amongst a most marginalized population.  Vanissa is the project founder of the award-winning Forced Trajectory Project ( , a long-term documentary project documenting the path of those who have lost loved ones to police violence. You can visit see her work here: and read about her experiences with self-care here.

Amy Starecheski is a cultural anthropologist and oral historian whose research focuses on the use of oral history in social movements and the politics of urban property. Since 2012, she was been the Associate Director of the Oral History MA Program at Columbia University. She consults and lectures widely on oral history education and methods, and is co-author of the Telling Lives Oral History Curriculum Guide. She was a lead interviewer on Columbia’s September 11, 2001 Narrative and Memory Project, for which she interviewed Afghans, Muslims, Sikhs, activists, low-income people, and the unemployed.  Starecheski is a member of the Core Working Group for Groundswell: Oral History for Social Change, where she facilitates the Practitioner Support Network. Her book, Ours to Lose: When Squatters Became Homeowners in New York City, is forthcoming in November, 2016 from the University of Chicago Press.

 Liz Strong: I grew up in New England, lived for years in the North West, and moved to New York City in 2014. In 2015 I received my MA in Oral History from Columbia University. I conducted my masters thesis work with the NYPD Guardians Association, a fraternal organization for black police. My BA from Oberlin College in 2009 was in Narrative Arts. Over the years I have worked as a freelance personal historian, oral historian, and storyteller. Now, living in New York City, I continue to work on a variety of projects with individuals and organizations, including the Columbia Center for Oral History Research and the New York Preservation Archive Project.

Eventbrite - Self-Care for Social Justice Oral Historians