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College of Liberal Arts
University of Mississippi

Project Descriptions

The Summer Avenue Oral History Project

“The Summer Avenue Oral History Project,” which began during May of 2021, documents how immigrants are incorporated into the sociopolitical and economic lives of communities that were not traditional migration destinations. Memphis, Tennessee is a city with a history of segregation and a historic black-white racial binary; however, there have been demographic changes in the last decades due to an influx of immigrants that are contributing to the revitalization of blighted communities. The oral history interviews and accompanying documentary shorts focus on foreign-born business owners on Summer Avenue, a commercial district in Memphis, to collect details about the migratory process, settlement, and the establishment of their businesses. Interviews are archived and made public on the Southern Foodways Alliance’s online oral history archive and the Digital Ethnography Project website.

Whiteness in Crisis

“Whiteness in Crisis” (NSF Award # 2115147) is a large-n (>100) interview project that aims to advance our understanding of how white southerners—a group often characterized as a monolith—are making sense of what it means to be white within the context of large-scale social, economic, and political shifts whereby the material and ideological durability of whiteness is increasingly called into question. Specifically, this research asks (1) how, in an era where whites’ dominant status is increasingly scrutinized, are white southerners making sense of their dominant racial group status? And, (2) what are the contexts and experiences that white southerners draw upon when making sense of their dominant group status? Students will have the opportunity to collect interview data with White southerners in three locales: Memphis, Tennessee, Oxford, Mississippi, and the Mississippi Delta. Students will then learn and apply a ‘flexible coding’ strategy (see Deterding and Waters 2021) to analyze the data.

The Queer Mississippi Histories Project

Queer Mississippi Histories Project logo with multi colored squares and a silhouette of Mississippi filled with a rainbow gradient. Invisible Histories Project. alabama. mississippi. georgia. Sarah Isom Center logo: text, "Established 1981; Sarah Isom Center for Women & Gender Studies"

The Queer Mississippi Histories Project collects and preserves life history interviews and archival materials from LGBTQ+ persons living in or from Mississippi. To date, the project has collected 46 life history interviews with LGBTQ+ trailblazers, drag performers, churchgoers, activists, and community leaders from across Mississippi, and has established a growing LGBTQ+ archive of queer memorabilia, LPs, and videos in Archives and Special Collections at the University of Mississippi. On top of these achievements, students in sociology, history, and southern studies have used the archive as the basis for their master’s thesis and dissertation research, and have turned the archive into a theatrical script, library exhibition, as well as conference presentations.

In the summer program, students will gain first-hand experience collecting, analyzing, and writing about oral history interviews with a focus on how gender and sexual identity intersects with race, power, and the politics of place in a rural, conservative social context. This student work will also become part of queer history on the University of Mississippi’s eGrove digital repository.