• Narratives of Displacement: A Digital Storytelling Project

    by  • October 3, 2014 • 2014-2015 Provost Digital Innovation Grant Winners

    Project Name: Narratives of Displacement: A Digital Storytelling Project 
    Grantee: Manissa Maharawal
    Discipline: Anthropology
    Funding Cycle: 2014-2015
    Project Status: Cycle Complete
    White Paper: PDIG-White-Paper-Maharawal

    About the Project

    Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 11.33.22 AMThe Anti-Eviction Mapping Project (AMP) is a data visualization, data analysis, and digital storytelling collective housed by the San Francisco Tenants Union. AMP creates quantitative and qualitative work that makes visible both the effects and causes of gentrification and displacement. As a member of the citywide Anti-Displacement Coalition, the project has worked closely with local and statewide non-profits, policy makers, and direct action collectives. Currently AMP is putting together a comprehensive map revealing demographic and qualitative information about who is being displaced from the Bay Area, as well as information about the landlords and serial evictors responsible for displacement. As part of this map, but as a separate project, AMP has started working on its “Narratives of Displacement” project. This project is an online interactive digital storytelling platform in which life histories of people who have been displaced or evicted are made available online as a component of the comprehensive map. These are stories of buy-outs, cases of harassment, rent increase, Ellis Act Evictions, Owner-Move-In Evictions, and demolitions but they are also stories of neighborhoods and the lives lived—and now displaced from, these neighborhoods. As San Francisco experiences rapid gentrification and long-term residents are forced out of the city, this project recognizes that important neighborhood histories are also lost. Through the use of oral history (life history) interviews this project aims to make visible what processes of gentrification often invisiblize: neighborhood histories and stories as well as the bit-by-bit displacement of long-term residents. As an ethnographer and oral historian my research explores anti- displacement/ anti-eviction activism and resistance to gentrification in the San Francisco Bay Area.

    selfie, 2014As part of this ethnographic research I have been working with AMP since March 2014. This proposed project comes out of my conversations and collaborations with them and allows me to my extensive experience as an oral historian and an ethnographer to not just conduct my own ethnographic research but to envision ethnographic research as collaborative, impactful and accessible through interactive digital formats.