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Oral History Newsletter XIII
Spring 2009

Editor: Nate Berger

Lead Photographer: Tanvi Chug
With Additional Photos Courtesy of Edgar Grallert, Natalie Wise, & Kirk Torregrossa

Oral History Luncehon

There was nothing unlucky about the 13th Oral History Circle as oral historians past, present, and future gathered for fulfilling conversation, fulfilling food, and a fulfilling Sunday afternoon. Ting Kang captured the room’s attention when she previewed her thesis presentation with an excerpt that included riveting eyewitness accounts of the devastating 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Irasema Saucedo’s one-year old daughter Alba lightened the mood when she practiced her own storytelling skills. Old classmates exchanged ideas with new students and all stories were told on full stomachs as the rich smorgasbord quickly cleared with some leapfrogging appetizers and a main course for Marta Filip-Fouser’s famous Polish Apple Strudel, widely known as the finest desert in the Upper Valley.

Current Thesis Highlights

Keisha Luce: Sum & Parts

Vietnam is on the other side of the globe from New Hampshire, but everyday Keisha saw the country’s presence where her father’s right leg should have been. Keisha’s dad returned from Vietnam a war veteran, an amputee, and ultimately a victim of Agent Orange. He was diagnosed with cancer when Keisha was ten years old. Keisha’s personal experience drove her to bring awareness to the three million Vietnamese affected by Agent Orange with disabilities ranging from cancer to severe mental and physical birth defects. In January, she travelled to Vietnam to undertake a documentary sculpture project that joins oral history and figure sculptures to explore the long term consequences of the war. Over the course of three months she collected oral histories from victims, advocates, and scientists from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. Along with interviews, she employed a body-casting technique to create a series of sculptures that will be in dialogue with the oral histories. The process entails covering the body with a silicone material that starts with a consistency similar to yogurt. Within minutes it cures to form a rubber-like mold that captures every contour, pore, and detail of the body. She returned from Vietnam with molds of nine Agent Orange victims and around 30 oral histories.

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Thesis Presentations

Ilana Grallert (Life Must Go On - German Women and Their Experiences During and After WWII) and Ting Kang (When the Rumor Turned Out To Be True: An Oral History of the Wenchuan Earthquake) gave wonderful thesis presentations before an attentive crowd in the Wren Room the afternoon of May 15th.

Oral History After MALS

Allen Sherman (MALS 2004) and Marion Nelson are compiling an oral history of the memories of St. Lucia’s artists, writers, poets, musicians, cultural critics and theatrical personages from 1945 to the present day, as St. Lucia moved from colonialism to independence (1979) and into the global environment. Allen and Marion spent four months in St. Lucia, collecting over 50 interviews where St. Lucians tell their own story covering childhood and education, life as an artist under colonialism, universal suffrage, Independence, post-colonialism, the legacy of slavery, the Nobel Prize winning poet Derek Walcott, Liberation Theology, Rastafarianism, St. Lucia as a bilingual society, and much more.

What They Are Doing

MALS Alum and Oral History veteran Tom Neeley will leaving San Francisco for the nation’s capital later this summer where he will pursue his Master of Public Policy degree at Georgetown after considering Michigan and UCLA.

Publication and Writing Front

Harvey’s next book, Remembering Fenway Park, is due for publication in the fall of 2010. Among the 135 voices in this work, which combines oral history and his own narrative, are two 100 year-olds.

Myrna is continuing to write and assemble the couple's ongoing oral history project of Jewish communities around the world, the latest being the remnants of a once-thriving community in St. Petersburg, Russia.

 

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