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.




I read The Guerilla Theater of Greenpeace¬†and all the while felt empowered. I felt motivated to take even the smallest of actions to make a difference. I believe that this article can relate back to what we talked about in class yesterday because these people aren’t “playing the game”. We talked about what happens when you “play the game” and what happens when you don’t. People get suspended, there is a loss of self-confidence and you are seen as a “failure” to many eyes. But, the people of Greenpeace are not taking the beaten path. They are standing up for what is RIGHT and doing the RIGHT thing, regardless of the effective consequences. In school, students are scared into doing what everyone else is doing. We are pushed into directions that are easily managed and understood. Who is responsible for this, I don’t know, but it is still happening. I don’t want to necessarily blame the teachers, after yesterday’s talk I came to realize that its really not all their fault. They are just doing their job. It is a total mess out there right now, though. Something needs to be changed. However, I believe that the difference between this issue and the issues that Greenpeace is dealing with is that people really do believe that our educational system is working. So it is imperative that we bring to light the true issues of what is happening to our children and future of our world to light, to our co-perceived notion.¬†Another aspect of this article that I could relate back to our class discussion was the idea of the individual versus solidarity. Yesterday it seemed that we all shared most of the same feelings. And I thought to myself “If we all feel this way, why have none of us tried to come together to make a change?”. Why are we going with the flow if our passion is so apparent and defined? I believe that Greenpeace does what they do so effectively because they are bound in unity and support one another. Having a sense of solidarity drives one to go forward and fight harder. This is what is so beautiful about people in general and the potential that we share to change what needs to be changed- whether that be toxic waste disposal or our education system or maybe even the lack of education systems in many countries.

Altogether, I felt very empowered and inspired by this article. It made me want to join some sort of activism group and go out and actually DO something. I get so tired of sitting around and talking talking talking about the problems in the world. It feels good to know that there are outlets and ways to make a difference.


here the is greenpeace video, it is very inspiring.

An Oppressing Institution

In this reading, I found that the fundamental question being asked throughout was “What does it mean to be human?”. I find this question extremely difficult to answer in our ever-changing world. We all live such extreme lifestyles today. Who is going to be the one to define this for us? Unfortunately, this question is so important because we have an issue of humanity at our hands. There are people in this world who are “dehumanized”, stripped of their human rights and left to struggle… and the only way out is rising above it all. However, many of these oppressed peoples view their situations as stagnant and unchangeable. They feel trapped. They must, nevertheless, find a way to transform their situation. This sort of ties into the idea of the “teacher-student” relationship that this reading went on to talk about. Today’s education is so incredibly institutionalized. It is such a black-and-white to view the world, that I believe, it is actually dehumanizing many children and young adults of the world. This is when I ask myself who is going to break these instituionalized rituals? How can we begin to transform our perceptions of ourselves and our world? We need to find a better way because I think that we are limiting ourselves, as well as the potential of our world.
here is the link to my image.