Wisconsin Farm and Ethnic Landscapes Oral History Project

Thursday, January 2, 2014: 1:20 PM
Thurgood Marshall Ballroom West (Marriott Wardman Park)
James Anders Levy, University of Wisconsin–Whitewater
The Wisconsin Farm and Ethnic Landscapes Oral History project, a multi-campus project of the University of Wisconsin headquartered at UW Whitewater, focuses on the history of food and farming in Wisconsin especially it relates to race, ethnicity, and cultural diversity throughout the state.  The project employs a "community-based history" approach, in particular using the practices of oral history.  This paper will present and showcase key findings from the project, audio samples from interviews, and visual media collected from the project’s first phase which focused on southern Wisconsin.  Project partners and participants include Will Allen’s urban farming initiative in Milwaukee, Growing Power; Hmong farmers in counties surrounding Oshkosh; diary farmers in Jefferson County; and migrant farm workers throughout the region. Reflecting on the successes and challenges of working across disciplines and across multiple campuses, this paper will explore the ways that connections to place and connections to history overlap and diverge.  It will also explore the ways in which those relationships do and don’t enhance student and community engagement as well their impact on collaboration and trust across a wide spectrum of racial, ethnic, class and other and multicultural backgrounds.