Cultural Documentation in Partnership with Communities

Michelle Stefano, folklorist in residence for UMBC’s department of American studies, coordinates the Maryland Traditions program for the Maryland State Arts Council.

Michelle StefanoStudents in my Cultural Documentation in Partnership with Communities course (AMST 358) are working with local residents and former steelworkers to document their varied experiences with the recently closed Sparrows Point Steel Mill in Dundalk, Maryland.

The students spent the first several weeks of the semester learning about concepts, techniques and ethical considerations in approaching qualitative research from a community-based, out-in-the-field perspective; broader notions of community cohesion, senses of place and belonging; and the realities of post-industrial economic and social transition. Now they are also becoming key players in the promotion of the mill’s significance to a wider public by helping to safeguard its living heritage: the memories and stories of former and active steelworkers, as well as other mill personnel and community members.

In this video, UMBC New Media Studio director Bill Shewbridge and I share the ideas and experiences at the heart of this collaboration.

Contact the author, Michelle Stefano, at ms@umbc.edu.