Summer Institute

Biannually, CCOHR sponsors a Summer Institute on Oral History in New York City, 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.

2017 Summer Institute

The Columbia Center for Oral History Research is proud to announce our 2017 Summer Institute Program: Oral History and Aging: Transmitting Life Stories of Being and Becoming Across Cultures and Generations.

The Institute will examine the social and cultural realities of aging across the life span focusing on ways that oral history opens up possibilities of meaning-making through the construction of narratives in a dialogical and relational framework.

Oral history, the practice of capturing narratives across temporalities, cultures, and personal identities is committed to understanding the ways in which people perceive aging around the world.

This institute will sharpen that focus by looking concretely at the challenges diverse populations face as they age, and examine the ways in which people can reframe their experiences and perceptions of aging through the construction of life history narratives.

To learn more or apply, please visit CCOHR's Summer Institute page.

2015 Summer Institute

The Columbia Center for Oral History Research housed at INCITE is pleased to announce its 2015 Oral History Institute, “Narrating Population Health: Oral History, Disparity, and Social Change,” to be held June 15-26, 2015 at Columbia University in New York City. Increasing economic disparities, war, political conflict and identity-based forms of discrimination have resulted in an unprecedented global crisis in equitable health practices and the distribution of resources.  Specifically, we will look at concrete ways that oral history reveals those disparities within communities that face discrimination and stigma, and offers new paradigms for understanding and response. This Summer Institute is partially funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholars Program.

Areas of focus will include: HIV/AIDS, mass incarceration, reproductive rights, harm reduction, addiction, stigma and discrimination and the impact of the built environment on health such as asthma and other diseases.  The program will focus on ways that scholars and advocates have used oral history to illuminate the impact of inequitable distribution of health resources in local and global communities. 

Check out the full 2015 Summer Institute program

2013 CCOHR Summer Institute

The Columbia Center for Oral History is proud to announce its 2013 Summer Institute, “Telling the World: Indigenous Memories, Rights, and Narratives" to be held June 10-21, 2013 at Columbia University in New York City. Sessions will explore the themes of indigenous memories, narratives and rights through local and global perspectives. Faculty will include experts on American Indian life, as well as indigenous cultures from Canada, New Zealand and other areas of the world. The institute will focus on traditions of telling and ways of knowing in primarily oral cultures. CCOH's core faculty and students from the Oral History Master of Arts Program (OHMA) will engage in dialogue with guest faculty on the themes of indigenous rights, oral traditions and human rights. We encourage students, scholars, and activists from local and global communities to apply.

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.