|Ramon Quintero, Activist and UC Berkeley Graduate Interviewed by Professor Michael Cohen in Cohen’s office at UC Berkeley, May 2, 2012. 01:17:20 “Why do I, a student that comes to the best public university in the world, have to live in a motor home?”|
|Alex Poska, Activist and Organizer Interviewed by Elena Wagoner at Elena’s Berkeley Apartment, April 4, 2012 1:00:48 “That what the tactic of occupation is essentially asking you to do and wanting you to do is repurpose space and reclaim space, so if we are going to be in Occupy, let’s actually occupy, because that’s how we can change it from the ground up and subvert the current governmental system or maybe get the current governmental system to adapt to what we’re doing because it’s better.”|
|Anonymous UC Berkeley Alumnus and Activist Interviewed by Jennifer Rubiello in Oakland, April 18, 2012. 00:31:13 “It was beautiful. We created a sort of commune in the middle of Downtown Oakland, in the middle of the most affluent area of the Oakland flatlands. It freaked out a lot of people, inspired a lot of people...”|
|Alicia Littletree Bales, UC Berkeley Undergraduate Interviewed by Elena Wagoner at UC Berkeley, April 9, 2012 00:07:00 “I’ve gone on marches and really not known where to go or what to do when I got there... it was so great when we arrived, we were welcomed in... and we sat for a while and sort of watched people in the little amphitheater and then we sort of walked around to see it but then we went to lunch... I just wasn’t sure where or how to plug in.”|
|Kheirya Shrooh, Owner and worker at Plaza Cafe, Oakland. Interviewed by Jacqueline Hughes Simon & Samantha Silver at Plaza Cafe, in Frank Ogawa/ Oscar Grant Plaza, Oakland, CA, March 26, 2012. 00:00:45 “It was very slow. At the beginning, they had their own kitchens.”|
|Nohemi, worker at the Juice Joint, Oakland Interviewed by Jacqueline Hughes Simon & Samantha Silver at the Juice Joint in Frank Ogawa/ Oscar Grant Plaza, Oakland, CA, March 26, 2012 00:00:31 “A lot of the customers don’t want to be close to the protesting people.”|
|Laleh Behbehanian, Activist, Organizer, and UC Berkeley Graduate Student Interviewed by Jacqueline Hughes Simon & Patrick McGrath at Jacqueline’s Berkeley home, April 30, 2012. 00:28:21 “As soon as a movement starts to have any strong impact, undoubtedly, there’s gonna be forms of repression. I think that Oakland was one of the places that showed that repression [...] showed it most brutally.”|
|Govinda Wind-Thunder, Activist, Occupy Protester, and Worker Interviewed by Alaska Quilici at Alaska’s Berkeley apartment, March 29, 2012. 01:37:16 “You realize you’re not getting released, it’s one of the worst feelings in the world. I was just sitting in jail, hoping that someone noticed I was missing, hoping they would put two and two together, hoping they would save my pets’ lives. The entire time [29 days], I was in solitary confinement, the officers wouldn’t speak to you when they passed you the food. It goes by so fucking slow.”|
|Fasil Lema, Owner of De Lauer’s Newsstand Jacqueline Hughes Simon & Samantha Silver at De Lauer’s Books, across the street from Frank Ogawa/ Oscar Grant Plaza, Oakland, CA, March 26, 2012. 00:00:43 “The protesters, you know, they are angry about the American life.”|
|Shane Boyle, Student, Activist, and Occupy Protester Interviewed by Elena Wagoner at UC Berkeley, April 11, 2012. 00:43:39 “Then they started pushing us into a smaller and smaller corner, a few hundred of us, and then were ordering us to disperse and not letting us disperse. Beating people back that were trying to leave. It wasn’t that much fun and then we ended up getting carted off to jail, all 400 of us. ”|
|Phil Tagami, Oakland Business Owner and Oakland Booster Interviewed by Jacqueline Hughes Simon & Samantha Silver in Tagami’s office in the Rotunda Building in Frank Ogawa/ Oscar Grant Plaza, Oakland, CA, March 26, 2012. 01:03:43 “As a community, we would never want to diminish or impinge on anyone’s freedom of speech, or their right to assemble, and we want to promote that understanding. Now the question is: at what juncture is someone in pursuit of those rights impinging on the rights of others?” The following San Francisco Chronicle article details one of Tagami’s dramatic confrontations with protestors, which he alludes to in our interview: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/11/03/BACM1LQ5FU.DTL|
|Reverend Dr. Harold R. Mayberry, Pastor Interviewed by Jacqueline Hughes Simon & Alaska Quilici at First African Methodist Episcopal Church, Oakland, CA, February 21, 2012. 00:40:07 “The faith leaders [of Occupy the Dream] are involved because every significant change in the life of this country over the past 50 or so years has had the involvement of the black church in it [ so...] the faith community as a whole became involved. [...] If Occupy is really serious about changing the direction of this country, we have to even hold President Obama’s feet to the fire.” www.occupythedream.org|
|Antal Polony, Writer, Activist, Organizer of Occupy Brooms Interviewed by Patrick McGrath at McGrath’s Oakland apartment, April 14, 2012 00:33:02 “Occupy should be affecting the political system [...] It would say something about our political system if it wasn’t. Especially here in Oakland, where it’s still so virulent.” “Brooms is a good service, a way to show community solidarity. [...] How much help Oakland needs, and how much Oakland can help itself.” http://antalpolony.com/|
|Brenda Hillman, Professor, Poet, and Activist Interviewed by Jacqueline Hughes Simon at Saint Mary’s College, Moraga, CA, May 8, 2012 00:32:27 “Poetry belongs in resistance movements is my utter, absolute feeling. [...] Poetry and all forms of art belong with political resistance, belong with places where societal change is going to occur for the better...” Read Robert Hass (Brenda’s husband)'s op-ed for the New York Times, including his account of the violence he and Brenda experienced at UC Berkeley on November 9, 2011 here. To read Brenda’s poetry, including work from her most recent volume, Practical Water, please visit http://www.eveningwillcome.com/issue14-bhillman-p1.html|
|Honest Chung, UC Berkeley Undergraduate and Occupy Protester Interviewed by Jennifer Rubiello at Doe Library, Berkeley, CA, April 13, 2012. 00:52:14 “Two police officers, after they saw me being dragged away [...] they had the audacity to come up to me [...] and then asked me if I needed an ambulance, and at the time all I could think was ‘This is really strange, right? Cus literally they’re ten feet away beating people up...’.”|
|Shannon Gedo, UC Berkeley Undergraduate Interviewed by Jennifer Rubiello on Sproul Plaza at UC Berkeley, April 9, 2012. 00:00:43 “It was really interesting to see the community of people that were all fighting for the same movement...”|
|Aly Maun, UC Berkeley Undergraduate Interviewed by Jennifer Rubiello at UC Berkeley, April 15, 2012 00:19:24 “Sorority sisters came out on the big events [...but] as far as the consistent general assemblies go, I was the only Greek person. It is a place, a community, at Berkeley at least, where you face a little more opposition to the ideas. [...] It’s a lot of apathy and indifference to the issues.”|
|Sam, UC Berkeley Undergraduate Interviewed by Jacqueline Hughes Simon & Jennifer Rubiello on Sproul Plaza, UC Berkeley, April 9, 2012. 00:02:05 “We’ve seen the impact of the superficial investment in what is a deeply important cause...”|
|Anonymous Cal Graduate Student Interviewed by Elena Wagoner at International House, Berkeley, April 5, 2012 00:08:35 “I think that the financial crisis, if that was what Occupy was protesting against, was an amalgamation of a lot of institutional and also sort of a critical mass that came together as a result of a chain of events that can’t really be pinpointed to a single organization or entity. [...] So for people to blame bankers because its easy is just a little misinformed.”|
|Anthony Thomas, UC Berkeley Student Interviewed by Jennifer Rubiello at International House, Berkeley, April 5, 2012 00:03:41 “I’d say in very broad terms I identify with the overall sentiment that class inequality and unequal distribution of wealth is a problem in the United States but I think the movement as a whole is very myopic, misguided and it’s been hijacked by people who have the luxury of protest and I don’t think it represents the true issues that are behind maldistribution of wealth and I don’t think it represents the people who suffer from it.”|
|Paulina Inzerillo, Activist and Organizer Interviewed by Elena Wagoner at UC Berkeley, April 5, 2012. 00:05:33 “Any time you are creating a movement your goal is to really mobilize the masses and the voices of the masses and that means even those who are against what it is you are fighting for but shedding light on the issue and having conversation with them about what is going on can actually, in a lot of ways, have them create a different perspective versus what they initially thought.”|
|Effie Rawlings and Krystof Lopaur, Occupy Organizers Interviewed by Samantha Silver at the occupied Gill Tract Farm in Albany, CA, May 4, 2012 00:53:17 “Occupy really took off when it abandoned this concept of demands and stopped trying to be the same as every other failed protest movement over the last two decades. And simultaneously, as they abandoned those demands, that’s when people were like, “Let’s just do this everywhere.” “We want to do it now, while we have all this passion, idealism, and vision [...]. It would have to be something really righteous, like some land that was in danger or threatened [...] and on our way back, we passed the Gill Tract.”|
These materials were prepared for Professor Cohen’s Introduction to American Studies course at UC Berkeley. The course, subtitled "Culture Wars" is a survey of post-Civil War US history centering on how culture serves as a critical site of conflict, power and dissent. Throughout the semester, students are asked to write papers in which they perform close readings of cultural documents they find in the past (photographs, poems, essays, films, short stories, paintings, songs, performances), asking how such documents are waging the culture war and whose side they seem to be on.
About our Educational Project:As part of our effort to capture many voices and new perspectives, we asked students to take their own photographs, use Flickr, and participate in the uploading of history. The digital humanities is about access and participation, and our assignment asks students to participate in documenting the present moment. Our work on Historian’s Eye is not simply archival, but was designed and compiled with an educational mission in mind. We not only wish to provide a body of images and voices that give a specific historical context to the current economic crisis and Occupy movement here in California, but to use these texts to teach students how to interpret and make historical meaning out of the culture and politics that surrounds them. We collectively wrote and presented a lecture in front of Professor Cohen’s Intro to American Studies course and wrote an assignment drawing from the site’s resources and inspiration. Our assignment uses the historical techniques of reading for context, interrogating meanings, and discerning cultural form used in the previous assignments, while bringing the digital humanities into the classroom. Our course work asks students to realize how vivid and alive the vernacular, unrepresented, and seemingly mundane world can be. History surrounds us in the built environment, in our embedded assumptions about power, value and knowledge, and in the ceaseless change that all of us are caught up in each and every day; not just on those dates future history students will be asked to memorize. Men and women create their own history, but not according to conditions of their own choosing: this basic premise of historical materialism remains the animating notion of this course, our project, Cultural Studies in general, and these websites, and by developing upon these approaches to the digital humanities, we believe that we have all come to a deeper understanding of what it means to look at the present with the Historian’s Eye.
Assignment: Historianʼs Eye on the PresentWhat does it mean to document the current moment? How do we do a Cultural Studies of the Present? The Historianʼs Eye website, built by Yale American Studies Professor Matthew Jacobson, takes on these questions through a collection of photographs and oral histories beginning with Obamaʼs election in 2008 and the ongoing financial crisis. Together, these texts ask us to think about the current moment as historical. Write a 3 page paper choosing ONE of the options below: Option 1: Take a photo that documents some aspect of the economic crisis and consider the photograph in space and time. Where did you take your picture? Why did you take this photo? Now back up and treat the photograph as a cultural document and read your own photo as a representation of the present moment. How does it represent contemporary issues in American Studies? Upload your photo to Flickr.com. To Upload to Flickr:
|• Go to www.flickr.com and sign in or sign up for a new account • Click on the Upload tab and upload your photo to your own Flickr account. • Once your photo is uploaded, go to our AS10 Historianʼs Eye Flickr Group website at: http://www.flickr.com/groups/as10historianseye/ • Add your photo to the “Group Pool” on our AS10 Historianʼs Eye Flickr Group. Enter a description of the photo with your name.|
Option 2:Find a photo on the Historianʼs Eye website that speaks to you and discuss how and why the photo is emblematic of the economic crisis. In developing your argument, consider some of the following questions: Why did you choose this photo? What is being represented in the photo, and how is it being represented? What connections are being made in this photo across geographical lines? (Egypt, Oakland, New York). Are there any historical connections being made? Whatʼs at stake in making those spatial and historical connections?
LectureListen to a lecture by the UC Berkeley Historian's Eye Education Team about Historian's Eye and how to use the site to think historically and critically about the present. Student Essays Here are a few exemplary essays written for this assignment by UC Berkeley students.
|• Grace Beaudoin, "Reflective Economics" • Kaela Connors, "History by Those Who Live It" • Lauren Reeley Guzman, "I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For... Happiness?" • Jackson Hille, "Lost Hope" • Julian Lee, "The Homeless" • Bryan Wilson, "Tepees, Solar Panels and Vineyards: Constructing a Discourse of Consumer Environmentalism in an Economic Crisis"|