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Undergraduate Program

From Africa to Medford
Shani Jordan-Goldman and Molly Hobey
create labels for 'From Africa to Medford'

Faucenia Booker
Faucenia Booker speaks at the West
Medford Afro-American Remembrance
Project community event, May 2006

How Anthropologists Engage: Archived Projects and Classes (2002 - 2010)

We have long incorporated anthropological engagement into our teaching. Students in community-based and publicy-engaged classes have learned ethnographic research methods and anthropological analysis in collaboration with members of local communities and international organizations, contributing in a variety of ways to oral history archives, museum exhibits, and community memory projects.

Place, Race, and Memory:
African and African-American History in Medford

Two of Rosalind Shaw’s public anthropology courses contributed to public exhibits that brought little-known histories into greater visibility in Medford. In partnership with the Medford Historical Society and students from Medford High School, the 2002 seminar "Memories of the Slave Trade" helped create an exhibit at the Royall House Slave Quarters and the Medford Historical Society Museum about Medford's involvement in the Atlantic slave trade and New England slavery. The exhibit was selected as a 2002 "Gold Star Project" by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. It can now be viewed on the Medford Historical Society website. In 2005 and 2006, the "Place, Race, and Memory" class explored social memory through partnership with a community initiative, the West Medford Afro-American Remembrance Project. Focusing on places and objects of memory and based on oral history interviews with longtime West Medford residents, the project formed the basis for an exhibit curated by Rosalind Shaw that was displayed at the Medford Historical Society Museum and the Medford Public Library. See the online exhibit.

Ariana Flores on WUMB
David Guss (top left) with 2002 "Theatres of
Community" class at the Somerville
Theatre in Davis Square
Theatres of Community:
Finding Our Place and Telling its Stories

For several years, the project-oriented seminar "Theatres of Community and the Social Production of Place," taught by David Guss, explored relations between cultural institutions—including universities—and the creation of a sense of place and community. In Spring 2002 and 2003, undergraduates in the class partnered with students from Somerville High School to collect oral histories from longtime Somerville residents. These oral histories were used in a major exhibit at the Somerville Museum titled "Lost Theatres of Somerville" and curated by David Guss. View the website.

Urban Borderlands:
Latino Communities in Somerville and Cambridge

Ariana Flores on WUMB
Ariana Flores on WUMB
Students in Deborah Pacini Hernandez' seminar "Urban Borderlands" developed their interviewing, website design, and digital storytelling skills through the Somerville/Cambridge Latino Community History Project between 2001 and 2010. In partnership with community organizations, students conducted ethnographic field research on the history and incorporation of Latino communities in Somerville and Cambridge, pairing up with Latino/a high school students for oral historical interviews with community leaders and residents. The wide range of topics included studies of the business community and individual entrepreneurs, the role of the Catholic and Evangelical churches in community organizing, the social and cultural importance of soccer, a focus on human rights issues in Somerville, and an evaluation of after-school programs for youth. An article based on this research entitled "Quiet crisis: a community history of Latinos in Cambridge, MA" is included in Latinos in New England (Temple University Press, 2006), and an archive of student projects is available online.

Oral Histories in the Tufts Digital Library

Tufts Digital Collections and Archives has digitized audiotapes of the oral history interviews conducted by students in three public anthropology seminars: "Urban Borderlands," "Place, Race, Memory," and "Theatres of Community."