Marvin Bendele Director, Foodways Texas & Lecturer, American Studies & Jeannette Vaught American Studies
The Range is a new podcast created by Foodways Texas, a nonprofit organization hosted by the American Studies Department at the University of Texas, that draws from Foodways Texas’s existing strengths in collecting and preserving oral histories to bring diverse narratives of Texas food cultures to a national audience.
The podcast goes beyond profiles of various chefs, authors, or recipes to delve deeper into the relationships between the past and present, the differences and crossovers between regions of Texas as seen through food, and the ways in which Texas food cultures shape and respond to trends beyond the borders of the state. By pursuing questions of how food works in relation to Texas identity, The Range uses food to illuminate regions and happenings around the state that receive little media coverage while challenging the stereotypes that accumulate around food cultures.
The first three episodes of this podcast are being produced with the help of the College of Liberal Arts Humanities Media Production Grant. All center on the theme of mobility, and each 30-minute episode of the podcast takes on a different but cohesive investigation into this theme. The first episode focuses on a single food item, beans, to tell a historical story of how international borders were drawn between Texas and Mexico; to tell a generational story of how a Mexican-American mother and daughter stayed connected by cooking together over the phone; and to tell a current story of Texas mythmaking through the RV- fueled world of chili cook-offs. The second episode brings together several stories detailing the interlocking logistics of the Texas beef industry, from the internet marketplace of beef genetics to the trucking industry. And the third episode will delve into stories from refugees that Texas is receiving from around the world who are adapting to the current Texas food landscape. While they participate in a very long Texas history of preserving their own food cultures in the midst of migration, the vulnerability of current refugees in Texas reflects specific challenges of state support, including for food.
Listen to the first episode
Kevin Foster Associate Professor, African and African Diaspora Studies
The Blackademics Television and New Media Project is a serial project that, in collaboration with KLRU-TV Austin PBS and the African and African Diaspora Studies Department, creates, curates, and disseminates black studies humanities and related scholarship to a broad popular audiences. The project entered its fifth season in 2017.
The project, which also trains students and faculty in the innovative production and dissemination of academic content, showcases humanities experts from around the country and the University of Texas at Austin chosen through an application process. In the months leading up to two nights of recording, three presentation coaches work with the scholars via video conferencing to help them maximize their capacity to engage a wide range of viewers across different media platforms.
The project expands the reach of the humanities be making new material accessible via the live-audience recording events, the public television program that reaches 1.6 million households, the website, and social media.
The College of Liberal Arts Humanities Media Production Grant allowed the Blackademics Television and New Media Project team to strengthen outreach and dissemination efforts by creating curriculum guides for the upcoming season filmed in February 2017, enhancing the project’s online presence so that talks are more clearly described and accompanying curriculum guides are easily accessible, and by transferring past and future talks into podcast format to enhance its reach.
The 1975 Voting Rights Act: A Brief History
Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez Director, Voces Oral History Project (LLILAS Benson) & Associate Professor, School of Journalism
The 1975 Voting Rights Act: A Brief History will consist of a four-part podcast on the 1975 Voting Rights Act Extension and Expansion, which extended protections to Latinos and others. For the past two years, the ’75 VRA has been the subject of a class Dr. Rivas-Rodriguez developed and taught called “Oral History as Journalism,” which is connected to the Voces Oral History Project part of the project’s Political and Civic Engagement collection, at the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection. Students in the class have interviewed men and women who played key roles in extending the VRA, as well as people whose lives were affected by voting rights in general.
The 1965 Voting Rights Act has been deservedly well-documented and researched. But the ’75 VRA, when Mexican American civil rights advocates sought to expand the protections of the VRA, is relatively unknown. The expansion was the brainchild of Al Perez, the son of working class Mexican American parents in Brownsville who found it difficult to vote because they were Spanish-monolingual and could not read the ballots. His closest partner was Tom Reston, a Yankee blue blood whose father was a legendary New York Times columnist. The expansion found supporters among Congressman Edward Roybal (D-CA) and Congresswoman Barbara Jordan (D-TX). But the legislation required the support of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, which had earlier negotiated the extension with the administration of then-President Richard Nixon.
The College of Liberal Arts Humanities Media Production Grant allowed for the conduction of broader archival research as well as the creation of the four-part podcast. The issues addressed are: the necessity for the expansion to include U.S. Latinos in the VRA; the evolution of the ’75 VRA and the stakeholders involved; the impacts of the ’75 VRA; and the effect of the 2013 Supreme Court decision to overrule Section 4 of the VRA.
Documenting Deaths in Harris County Jail
Amanda Woog Former Project Director, Texas Justice Initiative (IUPRA) & Fellow, Quattrone Center at UPenn Law
This project is a collaboration between the Texas Justice Initiative (TJI), an open-data initiative in the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis (IUPRA) within the College of Liberal Arts at UT-Austin, and the Texas After Violence Project (TAVP). The project’s goal is to film, distribute, and archive narrative interviews with people who have been impacted by deaths in the Harris County Jail.
Data collected by TJI shows an alarmingly high number of deaths in the Harris County Jail from 2005-2015, with the cause of death disproportionately “natural causes/illness.” The people who died in the Harris County Jail were also disproportionately black.
The psychologist Kenneth Gergen has written that statistics “are human beings with the tears wiped off,” meaning that data alone obscures deeper understandings of the impacts of these deaths on individuals, families, and communities. Documenting the stories of victims and their survivors honors their experiences and dignity, which is all too often ignored by justice systems. With this project, we aim to interview people from different “sides” of the system who have been impacted by deaths in the Harris County Jail, including family members and loved ones of those who died of “natural causes/illness” while incarcerated, witnesses, and jail employees.
The College of Liberal Arts Humanities Media Production Grant allowed for the hiring of a videographer who also completed post-production work, paid for interviewers, and facilitated the interviews of over six subjects.