Resettled: Oral Histories of Refugees Beginning (Again) in Appalachia

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In this online Practitioner Support Network session, we will discuss Professor Katrina Powell’s upcoming project, Resettled which explores the displacement, trauma, and community integration experienced by refugees in an area not typically known for its resettlement efforts: rural Appalachia. Developed in collaboration with the oral history nonprofit Voice of Witness, Resettled counters “the refugee narrative” and the “Appalachia narrative” by placing these stories together. Joined by Voice of Witness staff members Dao Tran and Ela Banerjee, Katrina will discuss the project’s editorial process and ethical considerations, including how to navigate potential “insider/outsider” dynamics and build trust with community members.

Guest Speakers:

Dr. Katrina M. Powell is Professor of English and Director of the Center for Rhetoric in Society at Virginia Tech. She teaches courses in rhetorics of social justice, autobiography, and research methodologies and her research focuses on displacement narratives and human rights rhetorics across transnational contexts. She is the author of The Anguish of Displacement (UVA Press 2007, funded by a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship) and Identity and Power in Narratives of Displacement (Routledge 2015), and editor of ‘Answer at Once’: Letters from Mountain Families in Shenandoah National Park (UVA Press 2009). With support from the nonprofit, Voice of Witness, Powell is conducting an oral history titled, Resettled: Beginning (Again) in Appalachia, to be published by Haymarket Books.

Dao X. Tran is the managing editor of the Voice of Witness book series. Dao was formerly the senior editor at Haymarket Books and has gathered oral histories of domestic workers and teachers. Born in Mỹ Tho, Vietnam, and a product of Philadelphia public schools, she’s passionate about social justice and democratizing the kinds of stories being heard. She is currently based in Brooklyn.

Ela Banerjee is the Community Partnership Coordinator at Voice of Witness. She was previously a StoryBooth Facilitator at StoryCorps, where she recorded over 120 audio interviews to be archived at the Library of Congress. Ela holds a BA in cognitive science from UC Berkeley and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Groundswell Facilitator:

Shefa Nola Benoit is a former executive of a leading national youth development organization who spent 15+ years implementing funder-driven programs from the top down. Discouraged by the growing disconnect of funders and agencies from their targeted communities, Shefa augmented her methodology by collecting unscripted and uncensored personal narratives to facilitate asset-based, community-driven solutions. Today, Shefa is Founder of Roots and Reasons StoryWorks where she implements independent projects and contracts with reformist nonprofits who are ready for communal prosperity. As a servant leader, Shefa is thrilled to serve as the PSN coordinator since 2017, seeing it as the ideal opportunity for connecting with the larger community and continuing her education in the field.

Important information:

Practitioner Support Network sessions are hosted via the video conferencing application zoom, once you register via this EventBrite page, you will receive the log-in information for zoom a few days before the event begins. Please contact our Communications Coordinator, Fanny García at with any questions or concerns. Thank you!

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