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Mark your calendars for November 2020, when CLIR will release season 2 of Material Memory.
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Climate Change and Cultural Memory

“I thought that people would speak about the damage to infrastructure, to their houses and bridges and roads. And people did talk about that, but they quickly moved past those damages to talk about climate change disrupting their identities, their culture, their heritage, their tradition. And I realized that climate change is ultimately about challenges to who we are, who we’ve been, who we can be, and the heritage that all of that is founded upon.”

 —Victoria Herrmann

“There’s no separation between my memory work and my climate change interests.”

—Itza Carbajal

redwood canopy

Giant sequoia fairy ring with fire scars and new growth. (Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California, USA)

Season two of Material Memory explores the impact of the climate crisis on communities and their cultural heritage. How does climate change threaten our records and traditions? What is the relationship between memory and disaster? How will the unequal effects of the climate crisis alter the historical record? What are the preservation needs of communities at risk of displacement? And what role does heritage play in identity and resilience? The season will take a critical look at the role of information and cultural heritage professionals in responding to the crisis, and consider how different approaches to preservation can help or harm affected communities. Join us as host Nicole Kang Ferraiolo speaks with guests about what’s at stake at the intersection of climate and memory and where to go from here.

This season will feature interviews with the following guests:

  • Itza Carbajaldoctoral student at the University of Washington, who until recently was the Latin American Metadata Librarian for LLILAS Benson at the University of Texas at Austin. Her work explores the intersections of records, memory, power, and culture.
  • Saiful Alam Chowdhury assistant professor in the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism at the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh. Prior to joining the faculty, Saiful spent 11 years as a journalist, and twice won first prize as Best Investigative Reporter for his work on Islamic militancy and crime.
  • Crystal Felima, emergency manager at FEMA, who holds a PhD in Anthropology and an MA in Africana Studies. She specializes in disaster narrative research and vulnerability in the Caribbean and has worked extensively in Haiti and Puerto Rico.
  • Victoria Herrmann, president and managing director of The Arctic Institute. Her research and writing focus on climate change, community adaptation, resilient development, and migration. She was named one of the 100 most influential people in climate policy worldwide in 2019 by Apolitical.
  • Ben Goldman, archivist for curatorial services and strategy at Penn State’s Eberly Family Special Collections Library. He is the PI for the Repo Data Project, a project to identify, gather, standardize, and make publicly accessible United States archival repository location data.
  • Blessing Nonye Onyima, cultural/medical anthropologist with a focus on gender, culture and conflict studies, environment, and health of marginal populations. She currently works as a senior lecturer at Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Awka, Nigeria.
  • Eira Tansey, digital archivist/records manager at the University of Cincinnati. Her research is focused on the intersection of archives, the environment, and climate change. She created the Repo Data Project with Ben Goldman.

Meet the Host

Nicole Ferraiolo

Nicole Kang Ferraiolo

Nicole Kang Ferraiolo is CLIR’s director of global strategic initiatives. She was previously a program officer for CLIR’s regranting and fellowship programs. Prior to that, Nicole worked at Columbia University where she oversaw several projects including an interdisciplinary research program on global governance that focused in turn on nuclear proliferation, pandemics, religious conflict, and climate change. She has worked in London as a radio news editor and in French Guiana, where she organized international exchanges for the Ministry of Education. She has an MA from Columbia University and an MSc from the London School of Economics, where she studied international history and disaster philanthropy. She received the Eric Hobsbawm Award for Best Dissertation for her work on relief efforts following the Hurricane of San Ciriaco in Puerto Rico, 1899. She grew up in Northern California and currently lives with her partner and two young kids in Takoma Park, Maryland.

About Material Memory

In theme-based seasons, Material Memory explores the effects of our changing environment—from digital technologies to the climate crisis—on our ability to access the record of our shared humanity, and the critical role that libraries, archives, museums, and other public institutions play in keeping cultural memory alive.

Previous Seasons

Episode Zero introduces the podcast through a conversation with CLIR president Charles Henry about the threats to our cultural record, what is at stake if it’s lost, and what can be done to protect it.

Season One celebrates the UN-designated Year of Indigenous Languages. In each of six episodes, host Joy Banks speaks with people involved in the work of restoring audio and audiovisual recordings of indigenous languages and their sometimes Herculean efforts to make these recordings accessible to the communities they represent.