Our name--Texas After Violence Project--is intentionally janus-headed, looking to the past as we simultaneously imagine a future. Our core work involves listening to and documenting the past--what has happened before and "after violence": the first-hand experiences of people directly affected by murder and the community and state's response to murder, including the death penalty. Our oral history interviews range over the landscape of memory, creating space for people to reflect on the way their experiences in the towns, cities, suburbs, and rural counties of Texas have shaped their individual and communal identities.
Our name also contains within it a nod toward the future, and even a utopian gesture: What would a Texas "after violence" look like? Since our oral histories necessarily engage with violent and traumatic events and subjects emerging from Texas' past and present, we want to also intentionally cultivate spaces of hope, where people can imagine different outcomes and alternative futures. What experiences and histories are available to us to build a more just and less violent Texas, a Texas inclusive of all? We collectively reflect on our past in order to make the resources and histories of our communities available for future research, deliberation and public discussion.
Our logo consists of the mockingbird, which is the state bird of Texas, encircled by a wreath. By choosing the state bird for our logo, we remind ourselves and our audience that our work is grounded in as well as nurtured and governed by our local context. Even as we are also aware of the way people, ideas, and events travel across boundaries, we remain committed to examining local histories and understanding local dynamics and cultures. And even as we also aspire to reach those beyond the borders of our state with our digital archive, we remain committed to first engaging and conversing with our wide circle of neighbors--with those who reside in the state of Texas.
Our local context includes the fact that Texas leads the nation in executions; murder rates are high in our cities; and we have one of the largest prison systems in the country. While for many these facts are part of their lived experience, for others in Texas these phenomena lie just outside of consciousness. We see these phenomena as an essential part of the story of our state, and we believe oral history is one way to ensure they are documented as part of our collective history.
Like many in our field, we see oral history as a form of grassroots democratic engagement and a method of community-building. We recognize a link between a general emphasis on individualism, a disinterest in and devaluing of our histories and a malaise in our communities. We view it as part of our mission to resurrect the past and to facilitate the forging of a link between people's personal histories (often considered "private") and the broader history of the community and the state. As people share their memories and put their past into words, and as we listen to their reminiscences, we collectively create the conditions and the space for the emergence of new histories, new interpretations of old histories, and new visions of Texas.
Rebecca Lorins was named TAVP's Acting Director in November 2013. She has been involved with TAVP as a volunteer, board member and staff member. Her background is as an educator and she is interested in how informal and non-formal education intersects with and/or challenges formal educational practices and spaces.
Rebecca earned her BA from Oberlin College and a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Texas at Austin. She first experimented with oral history interviews in her dissertation, which was a study of a Sudanese cultural center that used performance as a vehicle for peacebuilding, cultural revival and social change.
Rebecca has worked in documentary film and video production, and has contributed to several community-based participatory theatre and video initiatives. Her interest in first-person narratives extends across literature, nonfiction, and video/film, and she hopes TAVP will continue to build upon and stretch the boundaries of the genre. She was a fellow at Columbia University's Center for Oral History's 2011 Summer Institute and in 2013 she studied Narrative for Healing, Conflict Transformation and Community Organizing as a fellow at Eastern Mennonite University's Summer Peacebuilding Institute. She has taught courses in literature, rhetoric, religion, and cultural studies at the college level and is committed to bridging community initiatives and higher education in the United States and abroad.
Texas After Violence Project Board of Directors
Jane Peddicord, President
Louis Akin, Vice President
And a special thank you to all of our current and former interns and volunteers. Spring 2014: Sharla Biefeld, Lillie Leone, Tu-Uyen Ngoc Nguyen, Blair Robbins, Jessica Rubio and Jordan Weber. And thank you to our colleague Charlotte Nunes at the University of Texas at Austin for collaborating with our internship program this semester. Summer 2013 and Fall 2013: Simi Aliu, Edgar Arrellano, Bridget Carter, Shane Cruz, Taylor Johnson, Shannon Kintner, Alina Odom, Joanna Vaughn, and Jason Wolcott. Spring 2013: Katelyn Allen, Edgar Arrellano, Louis Keller, Shannon Kintner, Anne Kuhnen, Lysette Martinez, Erika Mittag, Courtney Payne, Greg Thomas, and Joanna Vaughn. Fall 2012: Anat Benzvi, Maurice Chammah, Shannon Kintner, Sara Malowanczyk, Lysette Martinez, Lizz Melville, Courtney Payne, Adrienne Tramel, and Jason Wolcott. Summer 2012: Jacqueline Artis and Aisha Sharif.
Our physical space: 611 South Congress Ave., Suite 250, Austin, TX 78704
Our mailing address: P.O. Box 41476, Austin, TX 78704
Our phone number: 512-916-1600
Our email: info [at] texasafterviolence [dot] org
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