About The Invisible Oxford Project
The "Invisible Oxford Project" documents the stories and experiences of community members, and the observations of students conducting fieldwork to create a historical record about place-identity, place-attachment, and the community of Oxford, Mississippi. Each year, students from southern studies and anthropology courses work collaboratively to record and analyze various aspects of social, political, economic, and cultural life in Oxford using anthropological research methods that draw on self-reflexive participant observation, informal and oral history interviews, documentary photography, and film.
How did the project come about?
The project was inspired by the work of two University of Mississippi honors students, Katherine Aberle and Heath Wooten. During the spring of 2015 Katherine completed a photo essay, “Oxford, Mississippi: For Richer or Poorer,” for a course about visual anthropology. She used documentary photography to reflect on the poverty that is invisible to many students and visitors. Her research examined the residential spaces occupied by those affiliated with the university and the homes of low-income residents that work at low-paid, service sector jobs on campus and in the local community. The following year Heath, a freshman from Mississippi, photographed the confederate iconography around campus and conducted interviews to document how students feel about the confederate symbolism that marks the landscape.
I’ve been impressed by my student’s research time and time again. They are critically examining the spaces and places surrounding them, engaging with the local community, and documenting the perceptions, experiences, and eclectic stories of Oxford residents. However, I was the only one reading the final essays or viewing the documentary films produced for a group project. Katherine and Heath’s documentary research confirmed the need for a space where innovative, multimedia scholarship about Oxford, MS could reach a broader audience.
The Invisible Oxford Project website was created in conjunction with Southern Studies 301 students Katherine Aberle, William Braswell, Lana Ferguson, Miller Meyers, Martha Grace Lowry Mize, and Nick Thompson.