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Sep. 14 | Oral History As Engaged Community Listening, Ceremonial Practice and Performative Art

  • Knox Hall Room 509, Columbia University 606 West 122 Street New York, NY, 10027 United States (map)
Santa Fe Art Institute, March 2017, Photographer: Robert Gomez Hernandez

Santa Fe Art Institute, March 2017, Photographer: Robert Gomez Hernandez

WHEN: Thursday, September 14, 2017, 6:00 - 7:30 pm

WHERE: 606 W 122nd Street, Knox Hall 509, Columbia University

Generally oral historians conduct their interviews in private, but private interviews, by their very nature, limit who can witness and contribute to question generation during the real-time interview process. Small, public oral history interviews that are thoughtfully designed and carefully curated as performative art spaces, can facilitate a larger witnessing.

In 2017, Mi'Jan Celie Tho-Biaz interviewed indigenous narrators about their art practices while serving as Documentarian-In-Residence in the Essential Studies Department at the Institute of American Indian Arts. In each small public oral history interview, Mi'Jan Celie's practice evolved to grow oral history as a storygathering method which equitably includes the narrator, interviewer and community-audience, with the aim to collaboratively generate a comprehensive narrative, together.

As Mi'Jan Celie's oral history and storygathering practice continues to evolve, her learning edge currently resides in documenting her own practice (which feels counterintuitive), and understanding how to meaningfully collaborate alongside muralists, dj's, community chefs, ceramicists, spoken word poets and traditional folk healers. These days, Mi'Jan Celie is asking: who does what, when we curate and weave story gathering events and moments together? Moreover, as we work along different mediums, elements and spaces, how do we center the ethics and methods of oral history, while we design for multiple aesthetics? Moreover, how are we responsible to each other?

Mi'Jan Celie Tho-Biaz, Ed.D., is a documentarian, oral historian, multicultural educator and community scholar. Most recently, her cultural work practice has been featured in The Rockefeller Foundation's blog and THE Magazine.

Mi’Jan Celie has been a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University's Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics; Spring 2017 Documentarian-In-Residence with the Institute of American Indian Art's Essential Studies Department; inaugural leadership participant with The Banff Centre’s New Fundamentals in Creative Ecology, as well as the Aspen Institute’s Franklin Project; and the Steinem Initiative lead designer and facilitator for the 2016 public policy digital storytelling and documentation pilot project with women organizers who labor for reproductive justice, at Smith College.

Mi’Jan Celie’s deepest passion resides in stories: writing, gathering, amplifying and uncovering narratives of personal transformation and community social change.

INFORMATION: For more information, please email Amy Starecheski at

This event is FREE and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

No registration is required, but RSVPs on the event Facebook page (to be posted) are appreciated to gauge attendance.