Ryan Morini, SOHA 2020 Conference Co-Chair, describes his involvement with SOHA and oral history:
I was drawn to oral history before knowing much about it formally; shortly after I started grad school at the University of Florida, I started learning about Black history in Gainesville from people in the historic 5th Avenue/Pleasant Street neighborhood. When Paul Ortiz arrived at the University of Florida (UF) and became director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPOHP), I continued my work more formally through SPOHP’s African American History Project. Around the same time, I started my dissertation research with Western Shoshone communities in Nevada, and it was again impossible to know meaningful histories or really work with communities without listening directly both to people’s firsthand experiences and the oral traditions passed down through families.
In 2013, I received a SOHA mini-grant to continue my dissertation research in Shoshone country; that was my first experience with SOHA. Later, I attended the SOHA conference at Cal State Fullerton in spring 2018 with students from SPOHP who were performing a play based on interviews collected at the Women’s March on Washington, and others who were presenting on a project with DACA recipients in north and central Florida. Following that conference, the inimitable and incredible Farina King recruited me to get more involved, and I ended up becoming the 2020 conference program co-chair.
My favorite thing about SOHA is that it’s more intimate than a lot of other conferences; it’s small enough that you will usually meet all the other presenters and attendees, and everyone is usually supportive and constructive with any feedback in sessions.
I intend to go to SOHA 2020–I’m program co-chair, after all. I organized a Nevada Native artists’ panel with esteemed guests Jean LaMarr and Jack Malotte, to be chaired by Fawn Douglas. I myself will be presenting a critical assessment of the research of Julian Steward, who worked in Western Shoshone communities in the mid-1930s.
We look forward to meeting for SOHA 2020 in the future. We hope that everyone takes care. Although we must wait to meet in person, we still have opportunities to connect through SOHA.
Photo: (From Left to Right) Farina King, Larry Cesspooch, Ashkan Soltani Stone, Wahéhshon Shiann Whitebean, and Ryan Morini during SOHA at the Oral History Association 2019 conference in Salt Lake City, Utah