What are the possibilities, the benefits and the challenges of practicing oral history across and within different community groups?

It can be difficult to ever fully understand the impact of our oral history work once a project is complete.

In a rare opportunity, one award-winning project has been able to gather a substantial hint at just how meaningful and validating it can be to be a participant and narrator.

Come along to our Annual Symposium and listen to an in-conversation session with Dr Jordana Silverstein and Dr André Dao, as they talk about their involvement with the project Behind the Wire, and the recently released Getting My Dignity Back: A report into Behind the Wire.

The session with Jordana and André is an opportunity to hear about the personal, political and professional challenges and joys of doing this kind of work, its long-term impacts across almost a decade, and what it means to learn about the project’s impacts.

Behind the Wire comprises a website, podcast, book, exhibition, audio stories, video and photographic portraits. The project included oral history interviews with people detained by the Australian government, which aimed to bring new perspectives on mandatory detention: the reality of the people who have lived it. See links below for further details.

This will be followed by a ‘Member’s Voices’ session in which members will share their experiences of working within and across community groups, before opening to a facilitated discussion on the possibilities, benefits, challenges of this work.

This is a hybrid event, however we encourage you to attend in person if possible.

PLEASE NOTE: tickets are available to OHV members first and will be made available to non-members if space allows from the 8th of June. To become a OHV member visit: https://oralhistoryvictoria.or…


Jordana Silverstein

Dr Jordana Silverstein is a Senior Research Fellow in the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness in the Melbourne Law School. She is a cultural historian who specialises in histories of statelessness, Australian child refugee policies, and Australian Jewish history.

Jordana focuses on questions of belonging, nationalism, identity, historiography, sexuality, and memory. Jordana is one of the co-authors of ‘Getting My Dignity Back: A report into Behind the Wire’ alongside Dr Sarah Strauven and Associate Professor Karen Block.

Jordana’s latest book is ‘Cruel Care: A History of Children at our Borders’. You might like to listen to a recent interview with Jordana about her book on 3CR: https://www.3cr.org.au/thursday-breakfast/episodes from about the 45 minute mark, or read her article in The Conversation: https://theconversation.com/wed-be-getting-it-from-both-sides-which-was-horrendous-australian-political-players-on-our-brutal-refugee-policies-202720

You can find more about Jordana through her Melbourne University page: https://findanexpert.unimelb.edu.au/profile/20371-jordana-silverstein.

André Dao

Dr André Dao is a writer, editor, artist and co-founder of Behind the Wire, the award-winning oral history project documenting people’s experiences of immigration detention by the Australian government.

André’s debut novel, ‘Anam’, won the 2021 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, an investigation of his grandfather’s decade-long detention without trial by the Vietnamese government.

André’s storytelling incorporates memory, inheritance, colonialism, belonging, family history, and fiction.

You can learn more about André’s book on his website: https://www.andredao.com/, a review of his novel in The Conversation:https://theconversation.com/andre-daos-brilliant-debut-novel-explores-his-grandfathers-ten-year-detention-without-trial-by-the-vietnamese-government-201570, a journal article about his work with Behind the Wire: https://press-files.anu.edu.au/downloads/press/n7824/pdf/ch07.pdf.

André is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Laureate Program in Global Corporations and International Law at the Melbourne Law School, and also runs workshops on autofiction techniques in writing.

Photo credit: the photos of André and Jordana featuring in the banner are by Leah Jing McIntosh.

More about Behind the Wire:

You can visit the following places to find out more about ‘Behind the Wire’ and ‘Getting my Dignity Back: A report into Behind the Wire’:

Behind the Wire website: https://behindthewire.org.au/about-us/

Getting My Dignity Back Report: https://law.unimelb.edu.au/centres/statelessness/resources/reports/getting-my-dignity-back-a-report-into-behind-the-wire

The Messenger podcast: https://www.wheelercentre.com/wlr-articles/the-messenger/

The book – They Cannot Take the Sky: https://behindthewire.org.au/book/

Date: Fri 23 June 2023

Website: https://events.humanitix.com/ohv-symposium-2023-oral-history-across-and-within-communities

Email: [email protected]