, a Ph.D candidate of Watanave studio, has been chosen a runner-up for the 2019 Jeffrey H. Brodsky Oral History Award at Columbia University for her master’s thesis “Restoring Testimonies.”
OHMA of Columbia University, which is responsible for awarding the Jeffrey H. Brodsky Oral History Award describes Tomoko’s work as follows;
“Tomoko Hiramoto interviewed Hibakusha, survivors of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. By comparing the narratives co-produced through an oral history process with hibakusha’s pre-existing public testimonies, she shows the gaps between a public, collective memory and the more intimate, dialogic public memory of an oral history. She expertly situates her findings in the history of public memory about the atomic bomb, both in Japan and internationally, with a focus on American understandings of this event. She not only demonstrates what is obscured in ritualized collective memory, but shows us the specific historical contexts through which these narratives were produced and solidified. In order to get beyond the “restrictions” of public testimony, she develops innovative interviewing methodologies, including the use of colorized archival photos, long, iterative interviews, and a deep reflective process as an interviewer. She finds that anger, hopelessness, experiences that cannot be verbalized, and ongoing pain and trauma shape the hibakusha’s experiences as much as a desire for peace and a healing trajectory do. Tomoko’s work has important theoretical and methodological applications, but her larger aim is to keep these experiences alive and relevant, to maintain these memories of war as part of a long-term project of peace-making, as ritualized testimonies lose their power.”
Tomoko is thrilled to the news and commented; “I am very honored to be selected among all of the brilliant and important theses and capstones. I am grateful to so many people: the faculty who led me to the field of oral history, the cohorts who supported and cheered me, and, above all, the narrators who kindly shared their memories with me.”
The announcement of the award can be found here.