CAFETERIA ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
A collaborative oral history project documenting a labor strike at a university powered through student-worker solidarity.
As part of an Oral History class, I designed and conducted an oral history project in collaboration with Abby Zan on the cafeteria occupation and worker strike that unraveled at the New School throughout May 2018. Our project design emerges from out shared interests in labor struggles, and the intersectional identities of race, class, and place. We developed our project through an iterative design process shaped by our conversations with worker leaders and students who had participated int he strike.
Our project was strongly grounded in values and principles of shared authority and collaboration, where narrators are viewed as agents shaping the story collection and dissemination process. We view oral history as a powerful tool not only for archiving historical events written from the “ground-up,” but also for providing a space for reflection and collective analysis.
So far, we have conducted oral histories with two cafeteria workers and three student leaders, which cannot be made available to the public at the moment. We hope to turn some of the insights from these interviews into an educational guidebook for students and workers at other university campuses looking to organize campaigns to improve labor conditions.