On Oct. 13, MALA co-founder Zainab Zeb Khan will present at the Oral History Association’s Annual Conference. This year, the conference is convened in Montreal, Canada.
Khan will discuss MALA’s project, Muslim American Journeys: In, Out, and Through., as part of a panel about “Oral Histories of Muslim Americans.”
This groundbreaking project is building a unique collection that is focused on the complex identities, challenges, and triumphs of Muslim Americans. MALA’s stories span the United States. They include immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, veterans, as well as families who settled in the United States as early as the 1800s.
The oral histories that MALA collects are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. MALA is able to do this through a community partnership with StoryCorps. The stories make up a key component of the LOC collection on the Muslim American experience.
Representatives from the Chicago History Museum and the Brooklyn History Museum will join Khan on the panel.
Ahead of the conference, the Oral History Review online published Khan’s Collecting, Archiving, and Preserving Oral Histories from the Muslim American Community. The article reflectsedon the importance of oral history in preserving and understanding the many identities within the Muslim American community.
Oral history is not simply the property of the past: it can be a powerful catalyst for change.
The documentation of lived experiences can significantly contribute to society by celebrating, challenging, and re-defining our national identity. In a country as diverse and complex as the United States, the histories of Muslim Americans remain layered and contested. By sharing a broad range of diverse narratives and experiences, MALA’s grassroots efforts aim to help Muslim Americans be proud of their identities while strengthening social cohesion in America.
In the process of preserving these unique histories, we can explore new, emerging expressions of identity in the present and future. The project fosters inter-group awareness, respect, and multicultural understanding.
MALA is honored to be included in this year’s Oral History Association conference, and excited to learn from and engage with other storytelling and oral history projects.