Dr. Aynur de Rouen, Curator of the Vera Beaudin Saeedpour Kurdish Library & Museum Collection spoke at the Annual Meeting of the Oral History Association in Tampa, Florida on October 17.
She presented a paper, “Now It Can Be Told: Recognizing the Kurds,” as part the panel Conflicts that Never End. Dr. de Rouen gave a brief history of the Kurds and then spoke about the Kurdish Oral History Project. Other panel members included Erin Jessee, Scottish Oral History Center, University of Strathclyde, Scotland, Juan Pablo Aranguran Romero, Universidad de los Andes, Bogata, Columbia, and Miroslav Vanek, Institute for Contemporary History, CAS, Czech Republic.
The Kurdish Oral History Project at Binghamton University documents Iraqi Kurdish refugees’ collective memories and living experience in both their spaces of origin and host society from the perspectives of the old and young generations. Through interviews with these migrants who are currently living in the Binghamton area, we discover details about power relations between the Kurds and the members of the Saddam regime, their social upheavals, relationships within their community, and socio-spatial activities in their homeland and in refugee camps. This project looks at how these refugees formulated their collective and individual memories post-conflict. The application of this project gives voice to the shared Kurdish past and refugees’ experiences in diaspora. It also demonstrates the importance of spreading memories of the older generations, particularly to the second generation refugees in shaping identities and reconstructing places in the United States and conveying their stories to international audiences.