Summer Institute

Summer Institute

Each summer in New York City, CCOHR sponsors an annual Summer Institute, which brings together oral historians, scholars, activists, and others for two weeks of advanced training in the theory and practice of oral history. Participants work with world-class instructors, network with oral historians from around the world and go to exhibits in New York City. Each year we focus on a different theme.

Announcing the 2014 CCOH Summer Institute


The Center for Oral History Research and the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE) are pleased to announce our 2014 Oral History Summer Institute, “Second Generation Memories and Stories,” to be held June 16-27, 2014 at Columbia University in New York City. The program will explore the ways in which memories are formed and transmitted through family, cultural, political and social frames and experiences. Oral history has been a central methodology in exploring global themes of identity and post-memory through second-generation stories of immigration, migration, poverty, trauma and genocide, displacement and exile. Oral history also provides a setting for intimate exchanges between families, communities and cultures in a way that preserves and secures local and indigenous knowledge across generations, cultures and ethnicities: engendering individual and social resilience.

We encourage applicants to use the Institute to explore a broad range of applications of second-generation oral history research in contemporary contexts and fields including public health and medicine, immigration studies (including the impact of post-9/11 US policies on immigrant communities), sociology and social science more generally. The program will include presentations on how scholars, museums and memorials have used second-generation oral histories, and testimony, in ways that are crucial to illuminating forgotten or misunderstood experiences. The Institute will also include practical workshops in digital storytelling, interviewing and editing.

APPLICATION DUE: April 15, 2014

Note on Tuition and Housing Fee: Tuition for the Institute is $2,200. There may be additional fees for field trips. You may arrange your own housing or take advantage of low-cost on-campus housing for approximately $75-85/night. Limited fellowships are available.

Core faculty will include:

Mary Marshall Clark, Director of the Columbia Center for Oral History Research and co-director of the Oral History Master of Arts Program at the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics of Columbia University;

Peter Bearman, Director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics and co-director of the Oral History Master of Arts Program;

Doug Boyd, Director of the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Libraries;

Alessandro Portelli, Professor of Anglo-American Literature at the University of Rome-La Sapienza;

Amy Starecheski, Associate Director of the Oral History Master of Arts Program at the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics of Columbia University;

Ronald J. Grele, Director Emeritus of the Columbia Center for Oral History;

Linda Shopes, Former President of the U.S. Oral History Association, Freelance Editor and Consultant in Oral and Public History.

CCOH staff, students from the Oral History Master of Arts Program (OHMA), and others who have worked in the archive will enrich our discussions with their interpretations.


Report on the 2011 Summer Institute

Our 2011 Summer Institute, “Rethinking 9/11: Life Stories, Cultural Memory and the Politics of Representation,” was attended by 18 fellows from the United States, Canada, Ireland and South Africa.The Institute was held from June 13-14, 2011. Drawing on the Oral History Research Office’s extensive September 11, 2001 Narrative and Memory Project, faculty and fellows explored the political, cultural, psychological, ethical and personal dimensions of documenting urban injury and recovery.

Peter Bearman, Mary Marshall Clark, Gerald Albarelli and Amy Starecheski spoke about the creation and interpretation of narratives of September 11 taken in the weeks and years after the events. The focus of the institute was broadened by presentations by Alessandro Portelli on his work on Harlan County, as well as life stories of victims of terrorism in Italy, and Ghislaine Boulanger on her work after Katrina. Irum Shiek’s presentation on her book, Detained without Cause: Muslim Stories of Detention and Deportation in America after 9/11 and the fieldwork that led to it was a deep intellectual contribution to the process of “re-thinking” 9/11.

Download the complete 2011 Summer Institute program.

Past 10 Summer Institutes

2010: Oral History from the Ground Up: Space, Place, Memory. This year’s institute examined the meaning that space, place and memory hold in producing individual, social, cultural and political narratives.

2009, Narrating the Body: Oral History, Narrative and Embodied Practice
This year’s program explored issues, stories and performances tracing the history of the body, as well as oral history as an embodied practice

2008, Oral History, Advocacy and the Law
This year’s program explored the parallel uses of oral history and legal testimony in the classical definition of advocacy as “finding and giving” voice, and looked at human rights commissions, tribunals and oral history documentation.

2007, Telling the World: Oral History, Struggles for Justice and Human Rights Dialogues
This year’s program explored how oral history theory and method contribute to an understanding of the political, historical and personal dimensions of human rights dialogues. Joining us in the creation of this year’s program was the International Center for Transitional Justice.

2006: Women's Narratives, Women's Lives: Intersections of Gender and Memory
This year’s program featured presentations on such topics of gender and memory in illness and activist narratives.

2005: Living to Tell: Narrating Catastrophe through Oral History
This year’s program focused on the challenges of using oral history to document catastrophe in its immediate aftermath and beyond.

2004: Constructions of Race and Ethnicity from Past to Present: Negotiating Collective Memories through Oral History
This year’s program focused on the role of oral history in creating and critiquing representations of race and ethnicity in collective memory, popular culture and individual life narratives.

2003, Telling Lives: Memory, Orality and Testimony in Oral History
This year’s program explored the use of testimonies in discourses on marginalized communities, and how such testimonies subvert and correct public myth and memory.

2002, Oral History in Contemporary Contexts: Documenting Narratives of War, Conflict and Displacement in the Era of Globalization
This year’s program focused on the challenges of using oral history to document war, conflict and displacement in situations of both immediate and remembered trauma.

2001, Documenting Memories of Struggle and Resistance: Social Change and Social Memories
This year's program focused on the complexities of documenting memories of social and political change through individuals’ remembrances.