UW Today

May 27, 2011

UW oral history project explores human diversity and cultural identity

News and Information

The UW Ethnic Cultural Theater will screen the documentary Beyond the Spiel as part of two multimedia events featuring the film as a way to share stories of people with mixed heritage. The events are free and open to the public.

Beyond the Spiel, produced by the UW 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. The 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 adviser 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 first screening of Beyond the Spiel will be Thursday, June 2 at 7 p.m. at the Ethnic Cultural Theater on the UW’s Seattle campus. The event will also involve a community dialogue, interactive art installation and Memory War Theater’s performance of  Below U.S. – a drama focusing on the “hybrid identity” of people who grow up and live in multi-cultural environments.

The second screening of Beyond the Spiel will be June 12 in the lobby of Benaroya Hall, in downtown Seattle. The documentary will be shown before and after the UW School of Social Work graduation ceremony, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Attendees can view Beyond the Spiel and discuss the documentary with the students involved in the project.

The Intergenerational Roots group is supported by the UW School of Social Work, the Diversity Research Institute and UWs MIXED—The Multiracial Student Organization. Learn more about the group on their Facebook page.

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For more information, contact Jaynina Smith-Prince, jayninas@uw.edu.