Past Event

Separated: Central American Families, Migration, and State Violence

January 27, 2022
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Online Event

Workshop by Fanny Julissa García and Nara Milanich

Co-Sponsored by the Center for Mexico and Central America (CeMeCA) & Columbia Oral History MA Program

Click here to register.


This presentation explores lessons we’ve learned in the course of an oral history project with Central American families. The project, commissioned by the policy advocacy organization Women’s Refugee Commission, has several “applied” objectives: to shape public messaging on border issues, to inform government policies to reunify migrant families separated at the border, and to create an archive of state violence with the aim of preventing future abuses.

We think through the theme of “relationship" in two ways. The first is a methodological consideration. How do we form relationships in the context of a transnational, all-remote oral history project in which we will only ever “meet" our narrators over the phone? The second concerns the relationship of oral history to politics. How can oral history help to shape public policy and public narrative? What does it mean to collaborate with an advocacy organization—and what happens when narrators' stories don’t “fit” its message? Finally, how do we center the stories of victims of state violence without leaving out the political and historical context that produced this violence in the first place?

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