Online Oral Histories: To Give Voice
and Empower (A Voice to History)

by Tam Nguyen

[April 15, 2011]

Information access and the digital divide is a major problem facing many immigrant communities globally.  Within the United States, these immigrant communities are often forgotten communities.  They are contributors to the U.S. economy and society, but their voices are never heard.  As the elderly of these communities past away, their stories are never heard.  This is a loss to ethnic studies, Asian American Studies, foreign policies and U.S. history.  With the development and emergence of technology, these communities now have a medium for their voice.  Technology adds their missing voice to history. 

Oral history methodologies have long contributed to the archival field and the preservation of history.  However, with the development of digital technology, oral history methodologies have evolved and allow communities to record their stories and share them without limitations, such as medium, access and geography.

Tam Nguyen will discuss how the evolution of digital technology provides a way to (de)colonize immigrant communities, specifically, the Vietnamese immigrant community.  Online oral histories, unlike traditional oral history methodologies provide a non-localized medium to capture, preserve, and share the immigrant (Vietnamese American) experience.  As many NGOs, CBOs, and other organizations have used the internet as a means to share stories, by incorporating Web 2.0 (and semantic web), there exist more social interactions and develops from a bottom-up approach.  This (Vietnamese immigrant community) online oral history project serves as an excellent model and case study.  It demonstrates how the integration of evolving technology combined with proven oral history methodologies, (de)colonizes an immigrant community and shatters access barriers and geographical limitations.






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