OHMA is thrilled to announce that we are seeking an adjunct to teach a Spring 2018 seminar, "Human Rights & Oral History: Testimony, Memory, and Trauma," offered jointly with the Institute for the Study of Human Rights. This course will provide an introduction to the use of oral history methods in the context of human rights work, with a specific focus on ‘dealing with the past.’
Oral history can be a powerful tool to document human rights abuses, just as it can contribute to conflict transformation processes and even the prevention of future violence. With its commitment to long-form, biographical interviewing and archival preservation, oral history is distinctive from, for example, the collection of testimony in a court of law or through a truth and reconciliation process.
Oral history allows scholars and advocates to make sense of the traumatic experiences of human rights violations and past violence within the broader context of a life, a historical trajectory, a cultural setting. It can also contribute to the work of historical dialogue in terms of its ability to stretch beyond official narratives, to dispel national myths, to create empathy for voices that come from opposing sides of a conflict.
However, using oral history within a human rights framework also presents real challenges: How can individual experiences be deployed as evidence? How do we take into account the complex interrelations of trauma, memory, and narrative? How are we to understand the relationship between collective and individual identity in this medium? How do we balance the needs of the narrator with the needs of society?
Understanding that the past plays a major role in the implementation of current human rights, how can we think of oral history as a mechanism of engagement with victims and perpetrators and the processes of ‘coming to terms with the past’ without suggesting a moral equivalency between these groups?
This course will consider these questions and related topics that focus on oral history methodologies and how they might be used in conflict and post-conflict societies as a tool of conflict transformation, democracy promotion or ‘dealing with the past.’
Applicants should send the following, as a single document, with the subject heading Oral History/Human Rights to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 15, 2017:
- Letter of interest
- Teaching statement
- Sample course outline - this need not be a complete syllabus, but should give a general sense of how you would approach the course.
We look forward to reviewing your applications and expanding our course offerings!