TITLE: Documenting Katrina and Rita in Houston
SPEAKER: Carl Lindahl, Pat Jasper
EVENT DATE: 08/13/2009
RUNNING TIME: 70 minutes
Surviving Katrina and Rita in Houston is the first large-scale project, anywhere, in which the survivors of a major disaster have taken the lead in documenting it. The project's goal is to voice, as intimately as possible, the experiences and reflections of those displaced to Houston by the two major hurricanes that pounded the Gulf Coast in August and September of 2005. The heart of the project is stories: stories told by survivors, to survivors, on the survivors' own terms. Project co-directors Carl Lindahl and Pat Jasper hear in these narratives the seeds of recovery: it is the conviction of the project and its many participants that to survive is not merely to secure food, clothing, and the essentials of daily life, but also to help shape one's future by taking control of one's own story. While media treatments of the survivors have too often depicted criminals or, at best, victims, the voices of the survivors themselves have portrayed selfless friends, compassionate strangers, loving neighbors, and, above all, heroes. Lindahl and Jasper described the genesis of the project and the field school that they developed in conjunction with the American Folklife Center to train survivors. They discussed current research on the 432 interviews conducted to date, and described public programming that has brought the survivors into contact with their new neighbors in Houston through panel discussions, radio broadcasts, museum installations and musical events.
Speaker Biography: Carl Lindahl is the Martha Gano Houstoun Research Professor in English at the University of Houston. He has studied and published widely in the fields of oral narrative and Gulf Coast traditions. He is a Fellow of the American Folklore Society, a Fulbright Distinguished Scholar, and author or editor of 15 books, including "American Folktales from the Collections of the Library of Congress" (2004).
Speaker Biography: Pat Jasper is an independent folklorist from Austin, Texas, and has worked as a public folklorist for nearly 30 years. She served as folk arts coordinator for the Texas Commission on the Arts (1980-1984). In 1985, she founded an award-wining statewide cultural organization, Texas Folklife Resources (TFR). Since 2002, she has worked as an independent curator, consultant, researcher and producer for both arts and humanities projects.
SERIES: Benjamin Botkin Lecture Series