Project Title:
Storytelling in the Global Midwest

Project Description:
Stories are powerful vehicles for defining and constructing our worlds. This project examines how immigrant and minority communities imagine, reshape, and relocate the Midwest as a global location through narratives in multiple forms. We expect their narratives to collectively tell the histories of their communities, and that many of these histories will be challenging and contested. We will consider how their histories displace, recontextualize, and remake ideas of self and community by asking:

How do people imagine home and their place there?
How do they keep and renew their histories as they move from one location to another?
How are memories constructed, narrated, and transmitted?
How do their stories reveal the Midwest as a global location marked by complexity, contingency, and change?
How do the stories of immigrant and minority communities challenge stereotypes of these communities as new arrivals to the American heartland? How do their stories reimagine the Midwest as a global heartland?
How do people work with narratives? How are narratives changed as they are told in different locations to different audiences?
How do people engage in and create communities? What narratives enable community building and collaboration?

New technologies affect the telling and transmission of stories. So we ask:
How do multi-media digital stories created and narrated by immigrants and refugees challenge narratives created by scholars, journalists, and documentary film makers?
How does a public digital archive encourage community construction and dialogue? How does it affect the construction of narratives, community relationships, and the transmission of memory?
What are the consequences for the documentation of community and individual histories?
How can these technologies be used to enable the creation of non-traditional archives that can enable community people to narrate, transmit and share, and archive their stories?

This project brings together existing and emerging digital humanities projects at Northwestern University, The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Ohio State University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison that work with narratives, storytelling, and oral histories. Our goal is to encourage collaborations that can link communities with universities in meaningful and substantive ways, including:
The creation of public digital archives that are truly user-friendly and encourage active use
Several joint sessions at related conferences (American Studies, National Council for Public History, Association for Asian American Studies, Critical Ethnic Studies, Oral History Association, etc.)
Exhibits, public history events, creative performaces
Community storytelling projects and community history reclamation projects
New courses, including co-taught courses and courses directly engaging students, particularly undergraduates, in research and in the digital humanities
Professional development of graduate and undergraduate students
Journal publications

We seek funding to support collaborative research and to organize a gathering of participants at Northwestern University in August or September 2014 to identify collaborations and plan for future grants. A coordinated plan of research with component projects that will be the basis for a full grant application is the expected outcome.

Organizer Name:
Ji-Yeon Yuh

Organizer's Contact Information:

Organizer's Departmental and University Affiliation:
History and Asian American Studies, Northwestern University