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Memories of War Conference: Part 1/2

  • Northwestern University 1841 Sheridan Road Evanston, IL, 60208 United States (map)

Vietnamese refugees and Korean immigrants came to the United States with experiences of war that are passed to younger generations as both silence and memory. These silences and memories have been variously called legacies, haunting, and debt. They are usually undiscussed and always uncomfortable. As legacies, they are part of history and heritage. As haunting, they are felt but just out of reach. As debt, they are burdensome and ultimately unpayable. This weekend symposium explores memories of war and their consequences by bringing together Chicago’s Korean American and Vietnamese American communities and Northwestern faculty and students. The symposium emerges from an undergraduate research seminar taught by Ji-Yeon Yuh, a faculty member in the History Department and the Asian American Studies Program. Each student in the class conducts a full oral history interview with a Vietnamese refugee, Korean immigrant, or second generation Korean or Vietnamese American in the Chicago area, and then produces a narrator profile and a podcast from that research. Their scholarship will be at the heart of the two-day symposium.

The first day will feature student research with oral history narrators, scholarly perspectives on war, trauma, and memory, and community perspectives on advocacy on behalf of refugee communities. The second day will feature a storytelling workshop and cultural performances celebrating the vibrant Vietnamese American and Korean American communities in Chicago. The highlight will be an audiovisual photography exhibition by Ethan Caldwell and John Lee showcasing the oral histories of 7 narrators. The exhibit will include photographs with listening stations to hear clips from interviews as well as podcast profiles produced by Northwestern students. After the symposium, the exhibit will travel to Argyle Street in Uptown as a public art window installation hosted by Axis Lab. 

May 6th
10:00-10:15am Opening Remarks

10:15-11:30am Postwar Memory and Cultural Production Panel
Elizabeth Son, Assistant Professor of Theatre, Northwestern University
Mimi Thi Nguyen, Associate Professor of Gender and Women's Studies and Asian American Studies, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

11:30-12:30 Lunch (Oral History Photography and Sound Installation) 

12:30-2pm: The Future of Immigration, Refugee Asylum, and Resettlement in Illinois
Ngoan Le, Illinois Human Services Commission
Inhe Choi, KRCC

2:30pm-4:00pm Oral History Narrator’s Panel

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Conference Organized by Dr. Ji-Yeon Yuh, Department of History, Northwestern University and Patricia Nguyen, Ph.D. candidate, Performance Studies, Northwestern University