Oral History as a Transformational Process

In Della Pollock’s Remembering; Oral History Performance, Pollock touches on various processes that bring memory into being. She defines performance as a “process of materializing historical reflection in live representation as both a form (a container) and a means (a catalyst) of social action” (Oral History Performance, 1). Pollock’s focus throughout this article is the obligation that we all possess of remembering and letting others remember. We must use our memory as well as our language, bodies, interactions and “response-ability” to open up and share ideas of change. She explores many other performers who use performance as something that not only brings “movement and sound to words and flesh to feeling” but opens people up to possibilities of change (5). The idea of “poiesis” is prevalent throughout this entire article. The idea of creating memory within a community and evoking a response that inspires action. Utilizing one’s body, as well as spoken word, can transport an audience to a certain time and place.

After reading this article, I recalled a town in Colombia- San Jose de Apartado- that I learned about in Geography last year. It is a small “peace community” that is fighting against the many armies trying to invade. It uses a technique called “dignity through memory” that preserves the memory of the people via memorials and helps the community remember the tragedies. By doing so, they are stronger and more powerful in their resistance and create a sense of dignity throughout the entire community. Keeping events- tragic or blissful- close in your heart and mind can make a difference without one even knowing it. The people of San Jose de Apartado use other techniques besides “dignity through memory” such as declaring themselves a “Peace Community”, not carrying weapons, not give information to or participate in any of the armies that want their land. They have resisted the armies for a long time now and have found their peace techniques very successful. This may not be considered a “performance”, in the sense that there is no audience, but it is an example for many to follow. Solidarity and perseverance have kept these strong people alive.




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