Institute for Oral History News

2011 Charlton Oral History Research Award Announced

July 20, 2011

Velma Love

BUIOH is pleased to announce that Velma E. Love, Ph.D., is the recipient of its first annual Charlton Oral History Research Award. Dr. Love, who holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Claremont Graduate University and the M.Div. from Union Seminary, is an assistant professor of religious studies at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. where she teaches a variety of topics in religion and ethnography. She has presented her scholarship at a number of professional meetings and has published journal articles and book chapters. Her works in progress include a book manuscript under contract with Penn State University Press titled "Unveiling the Saints: Discovering the African Self" and research on Africana spiritual narratives for an anthology of religious autobiographies from the African Diaspora. Dr. Love received training in oral history methodology at Columbia University and has fourteen years of experience in oral history interviewing.

With assistance from the Charlton Award, Dr. Love will focus her research on an oral history project titled "Oyotunji Landscape Narratives: Stories of Place, Space, and Spirit." As Dr. Love explains in her proposal, "The project is designed to produce a photographic essay and narrative presentation of the grounds of Oyotunji African Village in Sheldon, South Carolina." The Village lies on ten acres converted in 1970 by a group of African American Yoruba practitioners from swampland into an historically significant landscape that expresses Black Arts Nationalism and Yoruba sacred worldview. Dr. Love's project is a continuation of earlier interviews with some of the founders of the Village to document the meaning and uses of the unwritten sacred texts of West African origin. The current project will encompass the sacred meaning and use of the landscape and built environment of the Village. Dr. Love states, "Using oral history and photography as research methods, the final product will provide the general audience reader with a clear visual image of the current landscape architecture of the residential dwellings, as well as the shrines, altars, tombs, and spaces designated for ritual, ceremony and communal events, along with the story of how the land was transformed. This interdisciplinary project will make a contribution to several areas of study, including oral history, spirituality and landscape architecture, visual anthropology, religious studies, and African American religions. It points to the importance of 'learning to see' and of recognizing the significance of personal narrative, material culture, space, and place in the study of religion.

The goal of the Charlton Oral History Research Award is to bring the strengths of oral history to new topics of investigation, create partnerships with scholars doing noteworthy fieldwork with oral history, build a substantial research collection at Baylor University through the work of a skilled oral historian, and provide long-term scholarly access to significant applications of oral history methodology that model best practices. Learn more about the Charlton Award.




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