Our oral history book series has featured a diversity of voices and issues, including wrongfully convicted Americans, undocumented immigrants, and people living under oppressive regimes in Burma, Zimbabwe and Colombia.

Moving forward, our books will focus on communities impacted by issues of criminal justice and migration & displacement.

Learn more about our oral history book series and how you can apply to develop a project with VOW.

SUSTAIN THE STORIES

The VOW Story Lab is possible thanks to passionate people like you. Will you join us in supporting in-depth, human rights storytelling?

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or make a one-time gift today

INCUBATING NOW

Mi Maria

Editor: Ricia Chansky

On September 20, 2017, Hurricane María battered Puerto Rico for over twenty-two hours. The real catastrophe, however, seems to be the ways in which the people of Puerto Rico have been ignored in its aftermath.

Since the hurricane, the abject lack of U.S. government support has left many on the island without electricity, clean drinking water, food, and medical care. Nine months later, the island remains shattered.

Mi María brings together stories of survival and community with an interrogation of the politics of citizenry rooted in the history of Puerto Rico and the United States, and exemplified by the lack of support offered in the aftermath of this disaster.

Ricia Chansky is an Associate Professor of literature at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez. An essential part of this will be training 100 of her students to be conscientious, ethical oral historians who will collect narratives for the project from their home communities.

Read more about the project on our blog.

Resettled

Editor: Katrina Powell

Refugee stories do not end once they’ve reached a host country. In fact, that is often just the beginning of their journey.

Resettled tells the untold stories of displacement, trauma, and community integration in an area not known for its resettlement efforts: Rural Appalachia.

Between xenophbic rhetoric, decreasing funds for resettlement, and a continued focus on rural Appalachia as a place of poverty and strife, understanding these stories is critically important. This project will place the “refugee narrative” alongside the “Appalachian narrative” to provide a greater understanding of the benefits and challenges of welcoming new neighbors in the region.

Katrina Powell is Professor of Rhetoric at Virginia Tech and is trained in oral history methodology at the Columbia University Oral History Institute. She has conducted several oral history projects in the U.S. and Sri Lanka, and has also published several books and articles using oral history methodology and analysis.

Read more in our editor Q&A.

How We Go Home

Editor: Sara Sinclair

What is it like to be a citizen of a nation within another nation whose dominant social, political, and economic interests are fundamentally at odds with your own?

Native people have been moved off their land, assimilated, and even killed. Meanwhile, narratives in which indigenous peoples are invisible continue to facilitate their displacement. North American historical accounts too often exclude indigenous peoples, treating them as peripheral to the continent’s history. In reality, centuries of policies designed to demolish tribal governments and identities have left Native people throughout the United States and Canada reeling.

The stories in How We Go Home aim to open readers’ eyes to the myriad human rights violations experienced in Indian Country today. Narrators provide insight into reservation life: the connection between people and their ancestral lands; the collective heritage of displacement and forced assimilation carried in the people’s collective memory; and the on-going human rights violations rampant in Indian country. Despite the dire conditions that many Native North Americans live in, these interviews illuminate Native society’s incredible capacity for resistance, for healing, and for survival.

Read a Q&A with the editor here.

Sara Sinclair is an oral historian of Cree-Ojibway, German Jewish, and British descent, and a graduate of Columbia University’s Oral History Master of Arts program.

Holding our Ground

A partnership with IDEX

Food sovereignty is the right to choose what food we eat, where it comes from, and how it is grown. It is an issue of fundamental rights and autonomy, but our current global food system, dominated by corporate-driven agriculture practices, pushes out small-scale farmers and aggravates our shared climate crisis.

Issues of food sovereignty are often framed by focusing on problems related to food production without offering many productive solutions. The story not being told is that men, women, and youth at the local level are creating ways to transform our food systems for the better. Around the world, these individuals are encouraging sustainable and organic food production methods, organizing to sell their products collectively for fair prices, and lowering costs while improving the quality and quantity of their yields.

Holding Our Ground: Voices for Food Sovereignty will explore lives that exemplify ways that swimming against the tide—for example, supplying and demanding healthy and sustainably-grown food—is possible for us all. Narrators include the leaders of grassroots, community-led projects and movements in South Africa and Zimbabwe, particularly women, youth, and indigenous people. They are not only directly impacted, they are the protagonists of the stories themselves, awakening their families and communities to the promise of food sovereignty.

International Development Exchange (IDEX) is a non-profit that has supported more than 500 grassroots, community-led projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Annually, IDEX’s partners serve approximately 1.2 million people in impoverished communities, including marginalized women, small farmers, indigenous communities, low-income urban residents, sexual and ethnic minorities, and youth.

 

FOLLOW THE WORK

Sign up for the VOW Newsletter to receive project updates.

If you are interested in supporting a specific project, please contact our executive director Mimi Lok.