Monica Liuting (2016)

Monica Liuting comes to OHMA with an MA of English Literature from China University of Geosciences, Beijing. She worked as a volunteer worker in Changzhu Historical and Cultural Ancient Town Program (Shannan, Tibet) as an interviewer and writer after graduation.

Monica came to OHMA with an interest in exploring the construct of the narrative in sociological, literary, and oral historical domains. She was an intern with the Queer Newark Oral History Project in 2016 and is working on her thesis project on Chinese Young Artists in 2017.

Elyse Blennerhassett (2016)

Elyse Blennerhassett: I am a documentary producer and sound artist for radio, film, and space. Through sound, I seek to reveal the world around us. As an oral historian, I record first person-narratives to explore the necessary incompleteness of the moments and the marrow that define us. I do this, with the intention to explore how recognizably shared sounds can cultivate a sense of belonging in spaces that are otherwise defined by alterity.

Prior to joining the Oral History MA program, I worked with several nonprofits throughout Africa and Asia, focusing on post-conflict agricultural development with grassroots women’s groups. Returning to the US, I worked as a freelance podcast and documentary producer in Chicago, covering: police misconduct, accountability, and transparency, racial-bias, gun violence, food-insecurity, housing, poverty, race, and incarceration. As an audio producer for Brown Planet Productions, I collaborate with experimental documentary filmmaker, Carlos Javier Ortiz, producing two award-winning short films: We All We Got and A Thousand Midnights. Independently, my audio recordings have been featured on various podcasts, including: 99% Invisible and The Theory of Everything.

At the heart of the work are communities who counter alterity by challenging the narratives imposed upon them. I am currently producing 'Concrete Is A Colour', an immersive documentary about belonging and collective destinies. It follows strangers disconnected by time, yet unknowingly connected by place or experience, focusing on the systematic displacement, institutionalization, and erasure of people through incarceration. The documentary is rooted in the voices of Efren Paredes Jr. (MI) and Adolfo Davis (IL), who incarcerated for more than half of their lives, were sentenced to die in prison as youth. Through this ongoing and collaborative project, I have recorded their daily lives for the past two years. Through our conversations, I seek to create a work that addresses displacement, identity, inequity, citizenship, and the impact of mass incarceration on the potential for self-expression, freedom, and trust, in an environment designed to segregate."

Meave Warnock Sheehan (2016)

Meave Warnock Sheehan first learned about oral history when she decided to take a graduate class at Rutgers University-Newark as part of a master’s program.

Meave's previous jobs have been in local journalism, education, and government. Recently, she has been enjoying finding out more about her family history and learning about photography. Her research interests include local history, military history, podcasting, and the performance of storytelling.

Rachel Unkovic (2016)

Rachel Unkovic holds a Master of Arts in Conflict Transformation from SIT Graduate Institute, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Trinity College. She has worked for the International Rescue Committee in the field of humanitarian aid since 2009, based in DR Congo and Iraq, and with extended travel to ten other countries in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Rachel’s research interests include oral history in active conflict areas—oral history as a means to create space for refugees/conflict-affected people to gain more control over their own narrative and the story that is told—and interviewing to capture the effects of humanitarian aid.

Robin Miniter (2016)

An avid adventure seeker and vagabonding storyteller, Robin Miniter comes to OHMA with a B.A. from Marist College and a critical eye turned to the experience of female bodies in motion.

During undergrad, her senior capstone project was a photo documentation of feminism, gender performativity, and the experiences of women in “hyper-masculine” sports. She spent the following spring on the flat-track photographing and collecting oral histories of the Amsterdam Derby Dames, the Netherlands’ first roller derby team. As a Fulbright-Nehru Student Research Scholar to India, Robin took to the pitches with her cleats and camera, as she chased the rise of women’s rugby across the subcontinent.

Robin is currently pursuing her Certificate in Documentary Arts from Duke University. From OHMA, she hopes to refine her vision as a multidisciplinary documentary artist. It is here that she wants to further explore and capture the tales of these female pioneers, and the ways that they carve space for the next generations of women to do the same.

Robin Weinberg (2016)

Robin Weinberg started a nonprofit oral history project and wellness program in 2007 called Just So You Know, which gives people living with serious illness the chance to create, share, and preserve their own life stories through recorded video conversations and interviews with their family, friends, and favorite people. Just So You Know travels to hospitals and health care organizations nationwide, sets up “recording studios” and advises and helps people get their life stories told on video.  

Robin is looking forward to expanding the organization to include other populations of people with compelling stories to tell, and learning to use oral history for advocacy and education. She is particularly interested in personal narratives, but would love to interview on other topics, including civil rights, discrimination, women’s issues, and gun violence prevention.

Robin is a (recovering) attorney, specializing in employment law, with a J.D. from the New York University School of Law and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.  A New Yorker at heart, she lives in Connecticut with her three daughters, two dogs (also girls), two guinea pigs (girls, too!) and husband.

Shira Hudson (2016)

Shira Hudson is the Associate Director of planned giving at UJA-Federation, where she works with individuals to fulfill their financial and philanthropic goals. The most compelling part of her work involves meeting with donors and learning about their lives, values, and hopes for the next generation.

Shira is excited to begin the study of oral history and further develop her skills as a relationship builder and story collector. She graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures, and from the Jewish Theological Seminary with a B.A. in Jewish History. Shira lives on the Upper West Side and enjoys exploring the City’s playgrounds with her husband and toddler.  

Steve Fuchs (2016)

Steve Fuchs is currently C.E.O. of True North, Inc., a NYC-based digital advertising agency he co-founded twenty-two years ago. A New York native, he is looking forward to becoming a student (part-time) after thirty-seven years in the work force.

Steve’s parents and family emigrated from Cuba in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, just as the political landscape was changing. He grew up hearing many stories about life before and after Castro took power—oral histories from family members who experienced historic changes in real time. Perhaps this is where his interest in oral history began.

Steve graduated from Syracuse University in 1979 and currently serves on the Board of Advisors to the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications.  He is also a passionate New York Rangers hockey fan and tries to take in as many games as possible during the season. He is looking forward to becoming a part of the Columbia community.

Rozanne Gooding-Silverwood (2015)

While completing her undergraduate degree in cultural anthropology at the Columbia University School of General Studies, Rozanne Gooding Silverwood has been enrolled as a provisional student of Columbia University’s Oral History BA/MA program.

Her undergraduate coursework culminated with a historical analysis of archival material related to her Chickasaw ancestry found in her mother’s collection of 19th century documents and genealogy records, literature and photographs. The uncanny evidence of her Chickasaw ancestors’ determination to preserve the family’s indigenous heritage resulted in her thesis “The Indigenous Uncanny: An Ethnography of Erasure and the Resurgence of Chickasaw Identity.”

She has presented her work at conferences, such as CUNY’s 2016 Public History Collective conference “Afterlives: Place, Memory, Story” and at the 2017 Dynamic Women of Chickasaw Nation Conference. To deepen her sense of Chickasaw belonging, Ms. Gooding Silverwood embarked upon the study of the Chickasaw language and anticipates its usefulness in an oral history project “What Makes Us Chickasaw?”

In the fall of 2017 Ms. Gooding Silverwood will engage as a full-time graduate student with OHMA where she looks forward to interviewing Chickasaw citizens and persons of African ancestry who are the descendents of Chickasaw freedpeople. She hopes to foster dialogues about indigenous identity as expressed through language, resurgence programs, ceremonial practices, and traditional foodways. Ultimately, these interviews may aid the Chickasaw citizenry in discussions of reparative pathways of belonging that might address the historic harms of the Chickasaw’s slaveholding history.

Ursula Cedillo-Johnson (2016)

Ursula Cedillo-Johnson is a second-generation storyteller and a Third-Generation-Mexican-Black-American who revels in her intricately hyphenated identity. She hails from Prairie View, Texas, and will graduate from Barnard College in spring 2016. While working towards a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology, she comes to OHMA seeking to expand and challenge her ethnographic background.

When not pondering the intricacies and ethics of the social media era, she spends much of her free time collaborating on film and music projects by alternative artists of color, seeking to problematize and decolonize the audio-visual landscapes of contemporary pop culture. Her research interests encompass this political project. Through OHMA, she hopes to gain the tools to not only empower alternative narratives, but to popularize and project them through digital media.

Emma Li (2016)

Xiaoyan (Emma) Li: Before I began learning about oral history, my interest had always been in literature. While working at the Cui Yongyuan Center for Oral History at Communication University of China—which owns 800,000 minutes video of interviews and relevant documents—for over two years, I gradually realized that I enjoy listening to people tell their life stories.
Last year, I took part in the "Oral History in China Project," which involved interviewing well-known oral historians, in addition to organizing academic lectures, workshops, and an international conference. Through this process, I had the chance to exchange perspectives with a great number of oral historians from all over the world, which made me excited to learn more about oral history in OHMA.  

Fanny Garcia (2016)

Fanny Julissa García is a writer and editor. Born in Honduras and raised in Mexico, she called Los Angeles home before moving to Las Vegas to work in digital and social media marketing. She graduated magna cum laude from UCLA with a degree in English.

For ten years, Fanny managed a theater company in Los Angeles, which produced plays in low-income areas of Los Angeles. In 2010, she launched an arts journal called pLAywriting in the city, where together with a volunteer staff of journalists, writers and editors, she covered art and theater produced by people of color in Los Angeles and Orange County. Most recently, her short story, “Brown Puerquitos: A Failed Love Affair” was published byWestwind Literary Arts Journal.

At Columbia, Fanny’s research will focus on the mass media coverage of the Central American unaccompanied minors refugee crisis, detention center documents, asylum testimonies, and oral history interviews. In her analysis of these different texts, she aims to convey an interdisciplinary look at the migration patterns and unique experiences of Central Americans, and shed light on the traumatizing impact of the asylum process, detention procedures, and violation of habeas corpus in the U.S immigration system.

Emma Courtland (2016)

Since graduating from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in English, Emma Courtland has worked as a writer, editor, film programmer, and exhibitions curator for periodicals and nonprofits in her native city, Los Angeles. The bulk of her professional efforts, however, has been on behalf theAcademy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, where she spent the last seven years collaborating to devise and execute a full slate of public programs focused on the vast and ever-changing intersections of storytelling and technology.

Her programs have been covered by the L.A. TimesL.A. WeeklyNew York Times, National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, andWired Magazine, among others. She is especially interested in cultural form and narrative cognition, and how our modes of sharing stories—written or spoken words, still or moving images—shape our understanding of and interactions with the world.

Tauriq Jenkins (2015)

Zimbabwean-born Tauriq Jenkins is the founding artistic director of the Independent Theater Movement of South Africa and Shakespeare in Prison South Africa. He directed eight Shakespeare productions in South African prisons—covered by NPR and the Folger Literary Magazine—and was awarded the Davis Projects for Peace Grant in 2013 for his work.

Tauriq has served as the chair of the Performing Network of South Africa (Western Cape), a task member of Southern African Theater Initiative, director of the Arts, Culture, and Sport portfolio for the Observatory Improvement District, and organizer of the Observatory Documentary Film Festival. As a chess enthusiast, he has played, coached, and directed tournaments at various levels in South Africa, winning junior national team championships and university team championships.

Tauriq holds an MFA in Acting from Columbia University in New York and fellowship in the International Fellows Program at the Columbia’s School for International Public Affairs, focusing on U.S. Foreign Policy. He is a recent alumnus of International House, serving as a member of the Residents’ Council and directing four presentations of Black History Month. Other than recent years in New York studying at Columbia, Tauriq lives in Cape Town.

Fernanda Espinosa (2015)

Fernanda Espinosa is an Andean immigrant based in Brooklyn, New York. She holds a BA in Anthropology and a BA in Latin American Literature. Her work celebrates local knowledge systems, creates safe community spaces, and connects people through cultural organizing, immigrant community health, and language access. She has worked for different public health initiatives in New York City, as well as in translation and interpretation dedicated to social justice.  

Fernanda is a member of the People’s Climate Arts collective who were a recipient of the 2014 Rauschenberg Foundation Artists as Activists fund, and co-founder of Cooperativa Cultural 19 de enero (CC 1/19), a art and oral history collective recipient of The Laundromat Project’s 2015 Create Change commission arts award.

Geraldo Jay Scala (2015)

Geraldo Jay Scala is currently a freelance musician, writer, and aspiring oral historian. He has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Philosophy from Columbia University. Geraldo recently finished a master’s degree at New York University’s Draper Program in Humanities and Social Thought in August 2015.

Geraldo’s recent master’s thesis is entitled, “Socially Inclusive Approaches to Addiction: The Stories of Sanitation Workers in Recovery.” In coordination with Dr. Robin Nagle (Director of the Department of Humanities and Social Thought and Resident Anthropologist for the New York City Department of Sanitation), Geraldo’s oral history project juxtaposes the stories of two sanitation workers who have struggled with substance abuse issues with the story of a heroin addict unaffiliated with the Department of Sanitation. Geraldo contends that the aforementioned personal stories reveal how trauma, social ties, usefulness, purpose, and personal responsibility all contribute to the ways individuals experience addiction and recovery. Addicts are only addicts in relation to a whole system of symbolic rules and obligations.

Geraldo’s research interests include continental philosophy, political economy, phenomenology, existentialism, ethnography, urban anthropology, oral history, social exclusion, and substance abuse. His geographic focus is on the continental United States, particularly inner cities and suburbia.

Bud Kliment (2015)

A native of Philadelphia and a graduate of Columbia College, Bud Kliment is a Deputy Administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes, helping to organize and oversee the annual awards in journalism, books, drama, and music. He has also worked regularly as a freelance writer, specializing in music and the other performing arts.

Bud has published young adult biographies of Count Basie, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald, along with travel guides, cookbooks, and museum labels. He wrote a radio series for BBC World Service that used Motown songs to help teach English. In a younger incarnation, he ran a record store.

Bud is very pleased to be joining the OHMA program and returning to a Columbia classroom. He hopes to learn how to use oral history techniques to record and preserve cultural and artistic activities that are essentially ephemeral and collaborative, and also how to manage oral history projects.

Sara Jacobs (2015)

Sara Jacobs is originally from Springfield, Illinois, and graduated from American University’s Honor’s College in Washington, D.C., with a B.A. in Spanish/Latin American Studies. Her first oral history experience was in 2012 when she worked with Nicaraguan communities organizing around the disappearance of their loved ones during migration.

Sara has worked at Columbia for the past couple years and is looking forward to joining OHMA. Her interests include economic/queer/racial/gender justice, reading, and learning from other people’s experiences and perspectives.