Update on Project Activities
As a group, we reviewed the durations of the interviews given to us by Alexi and split the transcription duties based on time. The amount of transcribing comes out to around 2.5 hours worth of interviews per person. To get a better understanding of the stories and intentions of the AEMP, our team is reading through The Zine and their website, as well as their mission statement. We are familiarizing ourselves with Scalar, their interactive website platform, and are also in communication with Alexi regarding our next meeting and further interests in video editing and conducting in-person interviews. This weekend we are all working to tackle 30 minutes of transcribing in order to be able to debrief next week how the process is, how much time it takes us, what problems or questions we stumble upon.
We will have weekly Thursday meetings to support each other in the transcription process and check in to write our reflections. We tentatively plan to have all of our transcriptions done by November 10 so that we can begin editing our clips.
What We Observed and Learned
This week, in our class session with Alexi, we were introduced to the goals and purpose of the organization. It is widespread, with locations in cities all over the U.S., and all those involved are driven by a common goal of bringing light to the history and lived experiences of Black San Franciscans due to gentrification, particularly due to economic forces and real estate exploitation. One of the main purposes of the collective is to explain the long history of colonialism and present continuation and dispossession of Black communities by combining data, mapping, and narratives of resistance. Their purpose relates to our class because this project is aimed at addressing cultural continuity and social equity pieces of sustainability.
The horizontal structure of the collective gives us a lot of agency with the work we do. This is incredibly freeing and empowering, but also demands careful and attentive thought. We must frame our work in transcribing and editing these interviews using the literature we have read, as well as advice from the collective. One thing about the collective that was pertinent was their willingness to trust our judgment and believe in the work we would create. This creative agency is based in the collective’s lack of internal hierarchy. While this agency is freeing and exciting, it also demands close communication and an understanding of our own strengths and weaknesses so as to achieve our deliverable goals. To achieve this, we will have consistent lines of communication with the collective to ensure our work aligns with their goals.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
As we are transcribing, we will be attempting to account for “difference” in speech patterns that the algorithms that the software Trint uses can not account for. Before we begin transcribing, we are working through the readings of “Representing the language of the ‘other’: African American Vernacular English in ethnography” (Brown and de Casanova 2014) and “Problems of Editing "First-Person" Sociology” (Blauner 1987). After reading these texts, we plan to establish a working set of norms that with which we will use to approach our transcription process.
We want to move forward cognizant that academic Standard English is often privileged by research and ethnographers in transcribing interviews from communities, especially those that may have differences in dialects and speech patterns than the people transcribing the interviews. We are further want to move forward cognizant that in failing to capture the authentic voice and speech patterns of the communities that have been interviewed we would be contributing to the erasure of the culture of communities already suffering from dislocation. We also recognize that the language some of the interviewees may use is stigmatized in the United States. We want to work on the transcriptions with as much self-awareness as possible of our conscious and unconscious biases towards language and speech that is stigmatized and our position of power in choosing how we represent the language of others from communities we are not a part of.
According to Brown and de Casanova, studying language is the key to understanding social interactions and institutions. The authors bring in other scholars’ thoughts on AAVE in order to provide multiple perspectives on ethnography to the reader. One of these perspectives is Labov who posits that, “as inner city youth interact more with varieties of ‘White’ English, will bring about the demise of AAVE,” (Brown and de Casanova 2014). This is an example of a claim put forth by scholars, that has a direct impact on our work as speakers of ‘White’ English. We come from a position of privilege (we are not at risk from being evicted from our home at Stanford) that is reflected in the way we speak English. According to Brown and Casanova “Acknowledging language diﬀerences is important as it clariﬁes for the reader the power imbalances that exist between the researcher and participant… yet researchers tend to steer clear of such topics in their publications,” it is important that we do not.