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University Relations

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March 28, 2006
Contact: Victor Bailey, Hall Center for the Humanities, (785) 864-7822.

KU’s Hall Center presents Oral History Workshop on health care issues

LAWRENCE — The seventh annual Oral History Workshop, sponsored by the Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas, will consider the insights yielded by interview-based research in fields of medicine, illness, healing, living with disability and aging.

The free workshop, “Learning to Hear the Stories VII: Healing Narratives, Undying Words,” will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 10 in the Ballroom of the Kansas Union. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. Lunch will be provided to those who register by April 5. Please contact the Hall Center at hallcenter@ku.edu or (785) 864-4798.

Oral history is the history of experience; it is the stories of average people and how they thought and acted. This kind of history can tell us as much about culture and society as history texts that focus on the elite. Oral history can also teach us about the experiences of groups that are commonly left out of traditional histories.

Victor Bailey, director of the Hall Center, said he thought oral history had an important role in the uncovering of the past. “In their rush to read the written word, historians have too often neglected the spoken word,” he said. “The Oral History Workshop is committed to the retrieval and evaluation of the oral record.”

As the first part of the title suggests, the workshop will explore the oral histories of health care workers and those who have experienced the spectrum of health care issues. How might remembering, telling and hearing such stories affect policy, education and other areas? Speakers and panelists will look at how hearing the narratives of healers can heal historical knowledge by revealing forgotten pasts.

The second part of the title hopes to recognize that although bodies will die, personal narrative offers possibilities for stories to live on, and for the wisdom of those who come before to be heard by those who come later. Speakers and panelists will include a wide variety of approaches to a topic that plays a role, at some time or another, in all of our stories.

The first plenary session, “Shattered Dreams? An Oral History of AIDS Doctors and Nurses in Post-Apartheid South Africa,” will feature speakers Ron Bayer and Gerald Oppenheimer, authors of AIDS Doctors: Voices from the Epidemic. Frances C. Henderson of the University of Mississippi Medical Center will give the second plenary lecture, “Legacies of Health Care Deficit in Underrepresented Communities.”

Other breakout sessions will explicitly address the theme and will focus on the methods of oral history and the sharing of oral history projects.

The conference is co-organized by Sherrie Tucker, associate professor of American studies at KU, and Julia Good Fox of the Department of American Indian Studies at Haskell Indian Nations University.

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