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Living with Stories

Telling, Re-telling, and Remembering

Schneider, William

Publication Year: 2008

In essays about communities as varied as Alaskan Native, East Indian, Palestinian, Mexican, and African American, oral historians, folklorists, and anthropologists look at how traditional and historical oral narratives live through re-tellings, gaining meaning and significance in repeated performances, from varying contexts, through cultural and historical knowing, and due to tellers' consciousness of their audiences.

Published by: Utah State University Press


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pp. v

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-17

William Schneider is curator of oral history at the Elmer Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks. A long-time member of the Oral History Association, his interests are in the dynamics of storytelling, how people use and construct narrative to convey meaning. His most recent book is . . . So They Understand: Cultural Issues in Oral History.

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2. The Giant Footprints: A Lived Sense of Story and Place

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pp. 18-30

Holly Cusack-McVeigh is a research anthropologist and adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula College. Her most recent research explores oral history and folklore on the Bering Sea Coast. In this essay, she retraces her experiences hearing “The Giant Footprints,” a Yup’ik Eskimo story from the village of Hooper Bay.

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The Giant Footprints: A Conversation with Holly Cusack-McVeigh and Klara B. Kelley

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pp. 31-35

Holly Cusack-McVeigh and Klara Kelley explore the role of place in Yup’ik and Navajo oral tradition. They discover that the contexts for sharing narrative in both traditions are very different; Cusack-McVeigh finds that her Yup’ik friends see sites like the Giant Footprints as barometers of social well-being and they share with each other how their experiences relate to the traditional story and the site.

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3. The St. Lawrence Island Famine and Epidemic, 1878–80: A Yupik Narrative in Cultural and Historical Context

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pp. 36-67

Aron Crowell is an anthropologist and director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Arctic Studies Center in Anchorage, Alaska. In his work at the Smithsonian he has created opportunities for Alaska Natives to share their cultural knowledge through exhibits and exploration of museum collections. The following essay was inspired by a trip to the Smithsonian with a group of Yupik elders...

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The St. Lawrence Island Famine and Epidemic, 1878–80: A Conversation with Aron L. Crowell and James Clifford

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pp. 68-73

In the following discussion, James Clifford helps us to understand Estelle Oozevaseuk’s story in a broader framework. He sees it as part of a movement of indigenous peoples all over the world who are seeking ways to express their own stories, to contribute to history making, and to challenge the narrowness of the “official record.” Crowell and Clifford explore how Estelle...

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4. Singing and Retelling the Past

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pp. 74-94

Kirin Narayan is professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She grew up in India and moved to the United States at sixteen. Her major research has been in India, where she has been interested in women’s songs since 1980. In this essay, she describes how she reintroduced a traditional women’s wedding song to a group of friends and how they responded to the...

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Singing and Retelling the Past: A Conversation with Kirin Narayan and Barre Toelken

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pp. 95-98

Kirin Narayan and Barre Toelken explore how songs can go beyond meaning to carry a commonly shared sense of experience; they can be part of our lived experience, even in cases where we have not directly experienced the event or activity described. Songs, and this applies to stories as well, do more than entertain or inform about an event; they create opportunities to be part of a shared performance,...

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5. The Weight of Faith: Generative Metaphors in the Stories of Eva Castellanoz

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pp. 99-116

Joanne B. Mulcahy teaches at the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Her degrees are in folklore, anthropology, and comparative literature. In this essay she describes how Eva Castellanoz, a Mexican artist and curandera (traditional healer) living in Oregon, uses metaphors to generate stories that instruct and inspire diverse...

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The Weight of Faith: Generative Metaphors in the Stories of Eva Castellanoz: A Conversation with Joanne B. Mulcahy and Barbara A. Babcock

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pp. 117-119

Joanne Mulcahy and Barbara Babcock point out how Eva Castellanoz’s stories are part of a cultural tradition that she shares with her ancestors—a bond that sustains knowledge through generations and nourishes the teller and her guests today. For Mulcahy and Babcock, metaphors help transcend cultural differences and provide a way to share their understandings, experiences, and feelings.

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6. The Representation of Politics and the Politics of Representation: Historicizing Palestinian Women’s Narratives

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pp. 120-133

Sherna Gluck is an historian and founder of the Virtual Oral/Aural History Archive at California State University at Long Beach. She is an active member of the Oral History Association and the International Oral History Association. In this essay, she describes her research on the role of women during the first Palestinian intifada and the evolution of a Palestinian women’s movement.

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The Representation of Politics and the Politics of Representation: A Conversation with Sherna Berger Gluck and Ted Swedenburg

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pp. 134-137

Sherna Gluck and Ted Swedenburg, both knowledgeable about Palestinian history and politics, share their observations about how the political climate in Palestine influences the stories that are told. Their discussion leads us to consider the tension between the “official narratives” that are promulgated to serve a cause and the personal accounts that an individual may choose to share over time.

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7. Performance/Participation: A Museum Case Study in Participatory Theatre

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pp. 138-154

Lorraine McConaghy is staff historian at Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry and is active in regional and national public history associations. In this essay, she introduces us to a readers’ theatre project that engages visitors to the museum with the oral history of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. Unlike the other authors in this volume, McConaghy stages retellings as a way to present and preserve...

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Performance/Participation:A Conversation with Lorraine McConaghy and Karen R. Utz

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pp. 155-160

Lorraine McConaghy and Karen Utz describe how they create settings for retelling oral history. In contrast to the Kirin Narayan-Barre Toelken discussion, which centered on participation by cultural members in their own traditions, these authors focus on creating contexts for people unfamiliar with traditions to experience the stories. Their goal is to present aspects of the historical narrative...

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8. Afterword

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pp. 161-166

Yogi Berra, baseball star and colorful ex-manager of the New York Yankees and New York Mets, is credited with saying, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” It is as true for stories as it is for baseball and life in general. Our understanding of a story is never complete, because each time we hear the story told it may speak to us in a different way. Telling and hearing stories, one to another,...

Index [Includes Back Cover]

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pp. 167-175

E-ISBN-13: 9780874216905
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874216899

Publication Year: 2008