UW Oral-History Project Explores Human Diversity and Cultural Identity

27 May

Beyond the Spiel: A Media Project about Identity and Mixed Heritage

SEATTLE, WA – On June 2, the Ethnic Cultural Theater, in conjunction with Memory War Theater, will screen Beyond the Spiel, as part of a multi-media event focused on mixed heritage realities.

Beyond the Spiel, produced by the University of Washington Intergenerational Roots Mixed Heritage Project, recounts seldom-heard oral histories of individuals of all ages whose life experiences cross conventional boundaries of class, culture, country and race. This cutting-edge documentary takes its name from the often rehearsed, superficial responses given when individuals of mixed heritage are asked about their families or backgrounds.

School of Social Work Professor Theresa Ronquillo, who acted as faculty advisor to the group, says: “The students’ interviews with families and friends reveal how extraordinarily complex the historical, geographic and personal experiences are in shaping mixed-heritage narratives. A recurrent theme that emerged from interviews was the perpetual “dance” of having to explain who you are, all the time.”

The Intergenerational Roots group consists of UW faculty, and undergraduate and graduate students from multiple disciplines dedicated to illuminating the relationships between race, discrimination and identity. They selected this project to focus on people whose stories are often marginalized in mainstream media, historical records and university offerings. The group is supported by the UW School of Social Work, the Diversity Research Institute and UW’s MIXED—The Multiracial Student Organization.

The first exhibit of Beyond the Spiel at the Ethnic Cultural Theater on Thursday, June 2 at 7 p.m. will include a community dialogue, interactive art installation and Memory War’s performance ofBelow U.S. – a powerful drama focusing on the “hybrid identity” of people who grow up and live in multi-cultural environments.

A second exhibit is scheduled for June 12 at 5:30 p.m. in the Benaroya Hall lobby before and after the UW School of Social Work graduation ceremony.

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