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McLean Museum of History features Latinx history

Written by on April 24, 2023

Photo provided by Visit Bloomington Normal

NORMAL, Ill. – Illinois State University’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology hosted a two-day conference on April 21 and 22 in collaboration with ISU’s Latin American and Latino Studies Program and the McLean County Museum of History.

The conference was held at the McLean County Arts Center and the University Galleries; with the goal of the overall conference to highlight the importance of preserving and sharing Latinx cultural knowledge through oral history.

The first day of the conference featured a lecture by Professor in the Department of English at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayag├╝ez, Dr. Ricia Anne Chansky The lecture was oriented around the importance of documenting oral histories. The lecture was held at ISU’s University Galleries on Friday at 3 p.m. Dr. Chansky spoke about the urgency of recording, preserving and disseminating oral histories.

When asked about her lecture and how oral stories can empower individuals and communities in a culture, Dr. Chansky emphasized the need to change the narrative that people’s lived experiences are not valuable. She also highlighted the importance of recognizing the value of experiential knowledge.

“If your voice wasn’t so powerful people wouldn’t be working so hard to silence it,” said Dr. Chansky.

The second day of the conference featured a presentation of local Latinx oral histories by ISU undergraduate students. Students under the guidance of Dr. Moro Toro-Mourn conducted a series of oral history interviews with Latinx members of the Bloomington-Normal community. The McLean County Museum of History added the students’ compiled oral histories to its archives.

The students’ stories will continue to be presented at the McLean County Museum of History with the purpose of enabling the community to gain a deeper understanding of the Latin American community.