Interviewee: Amy Starecheski
Amy Starecheski is the Associate Director of the Oral History MA Program at Columbia University and received a PhD in cultural anthropology from the CUNY Graduate Center. 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 from the University of Chicago Press.
Interviewer: Cynthia Tobar
Cynthia Tobar is an archivist and oral historian who started "Cities for People, Not for Profit": Gentrification and Housing Activism in Bushwick, which is collecting first-hand stories from artists, activists, and community residents in Bushwick, Brooklyn on gentrification/housing issues taking place in the neighborhood, as well as documenting what community activism efforts have been like for local organizations such as Make the Road NY and El Puente. She is also the founder of the WRI Oral History Project, which is documenting the Welfare Rights Initiative (WRI), a grassroots student activist and community leadership training organization located at Hunter College. Currently, Cynthia is an Archivist and Assistant Professor at Bronx Community College, where she is establishing their first Archive and Oral History program.
Summary: Amy describes how she incorporates an anti-oppression framework into both her teaching, as a professor of Columbia's Masters program in Oral History, as well as her own projects. In particular, she describes the importance of engaging in a process of ongoing consent and the interviewer's responsibility to reflect on and gauge their power and privilege in an interviewer/interviewee dynamic.
Interview Date: July 8th, 2015
0:00 - 2:00: Introductions
2:00 - 2:30: Anti-oppression training at Columbia’s Oral History MA Program
2:50: “Oral history interviews are a great place for us to understand a relationship between the individual and larger historical forces”
3:15: Teaching students how to address structural oppression in oral history interviews
4:10 - 7:50: How "ongoing consent" is a part of an anti-oppression framework
8:15 - 9:25: How to manage time constraints of practicing ongoing consent
9:30 - 10:40: Managing the authority and power dynamics between oral historians and subjects
10:45 - 13:00: Role of interviewer in anti-oppression framework: interviewers recognizing their identities and position