Survivors of Torture and Persecution Oral History Project (2004-2021)
The Florida State University Center for Advancement of Human Rights provided funding to document the stories of survivors of torture and persecution, with the support of the Florida Center of Survivors of Torture (FCST), who provided them services. These 18 survivors hailed from a range of countries and periods, but mostly represented the 1990 wave of individuals fleeing violence and persecution from Sierra Leone, the former Yugoslavia, Cuba and Latin American countries, persecuted due to ethnicity, gender, religion, poverty, human rights activism, and sexuality, many of whom faced new trauma, as refugees or asylum seekers in NYC during the 9/11/01 terrorist attack. The tapes detail the violence they fled, refugee camp living, experiences with the fraught US asylum system, and resilience in the face of ongoing displacement. The collection includes interviews with pro-bono immigration lawyers and staff from the FCST discussing their work with survivors, the severe inequity within the US immigration legal system, and testifying to survivors’ rich contributions to the US community.
Originally this project was imagined as a documentary film, and we also produced a PR film for the FCST Centre. Over time, as survivors disappeared or died, I felt I did not have ongoing, enthusiastic consent and as such, I do not distribute the film content. Instead, I transformed the tapes into an oral history that is held by the FCST, who have final consent from interviewees and can provide access to tapes to academics and families, as appropriate. The collection includes 18 two hour interviews with survivors, 10 interviews with FCST, and 6 interviews with pro-bono immigration lawyers and advocates.