SpeakUP – Celebrating Our Oral History Titles for University Press Week

The theme of University Press Week 2023 is #SpeakUP

We decided to take this literally and celebrate a number of oral history titles that we have published. There are so many voices that are unheard, silenced, or marginalized. This is an area where publishers across our global industry are striving to do more and do better. 

There are several ways of narrating the past. Historiography, for example, often tells us more about the motives of the historian than what actually happened. History from below attempts to liberate history from the limitations and biases of the historian by allowing ordinary people to narrate their own history, and by using these alternative historical narratives as a new foundation for our understanding of history and for envisioning new priorities for the future. History from below is rich and insightful and regenerative, helping us to understand a world stratified by race, economy, colonial borders, and oppressive powers.

With #SpeakUp as our theme, we identify women who speak up from across the decades, we show how Indigenous peoples have refused to be silenced by racism and settler colonialism, and we celebrate Indigenous storytelling and survivance through language and culture.

The oral histories titles in our list are valued by readers who want to learn about history not just from academic sources but from Elders, custodians of story, and others who share their personal life experiences.

Here Is Our #SpeakUP List

Women’s Voices from Gaza Series 

These oral histories honour women’s unique and underrepresented perspectives on the social, material, and political realities of Palestinian life.

Indigenous Women and Street Gangs: Survivance Narratives 

Amber, Bev, Chantel, Jazmyne, Faith, and Jorgina are six Indigenous women who demonstrate survivance through photos and narratives about street gangs and street lifestyle. With Robert Henry.

Our Whole Gwich’in Way of Life Has Changed / Gwich’in K’yuu Gwiidandài’ Tthak Ejuk Gòonlih: Stories from the People of the Land

The life-stories of 23 Gwich’in Elders from the Northwest Territories in Canada speak to changing times. By the Gwich’in Tribal Council with Leslie McCartney.

The Stories Were Not Told: Canada’s First World War Internment Camps

Through oral history and photography, Sandra Semchuk examines the consequences of Canada’s first internment camps.

People of the Lakes: Stories of Our Van Tat Gwich’in Elders/Googwandak Nakhwach’ànjòo Van Tat Gwich’in

The Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and Shirleen Smith share fifty years of Elders’ oral histories, recounting 150 years of Gwich’in life.

The Man Who Lived with a Giant: Stories from Johnny Neyelle, Dene Elder

Alana Fletcher and Morris Neyelle have given us a vital book of cultural storytelling for Dene readers and anyone invested in Indigenous knowledge-keeping.

Healing Histories: Stories from Canada’s Indian Hospitals

Laurie Meijer Drees collected oral histories from people who experienced tuberculosis in Indigenous communities and the Indian Hospital System.

Their Example Showed Me the Way / kwayask ê-kî-pê-kiskinowâpahtihicik: A Cree Woman’s Life Shaped by Two Cultures

Emma Minde offers rare insight into a life history guided by two powerful forces: the traditional world of the Plains Cree and the influence of the Catholic missions. Featuring Cree and English translation from Freda Ahenakew and H. C. Wolfart.

Edmonton In Our Own Words

Citizens with diverse viewpoints describe important events in Edmonton’s development through written records and spoken stories. Edited and curated by Linda Goyette and Carolina Jakeway Roemmich.

Disinherited Generations: Our Struggle to Reclaim Treaty Rights for First Nations Women and their Descendants

Nellie Carlson and Kathleen Steinhauer, two Cree women, tell how they fought injustices regarding the rights of Indigenous women and children in Canada. With Linda Goyette.

Kurdish Women’s Stories

From all four parts of Kurdistan and across the diaspora, Kurdish women tell their stories. Collected and edited by Houzan Mahmoud.