Private Stories, Public Archive: Story-sharing, Oral History, and Digital Media

Melissa Madera / Courtesy photo

The Abortion Diary, an abortion story-sharing podcast, began as a way to create a community around an experience that can be extremely isolating, but it has also become a digital archive. In just over four years, over 290 people have shared their stories for the podcast. This presentation focuses on how this personal project and intimate community of story-sharers has grown into an oral history project and digital archive. We will talk about how collecting, preserving, and studying the voices of the past and present allow us to better grapple with reproductive justice  issues of the present and future. When made accessible, these oral histories can enrich discussions around abortion and other social justice issues in classrooms, and ground politicians and activists in the everyday realities of those who have had abortions. 

Originally from Washington Heights, New York, Melissa Madera (a.k.a. the abortion diarist) is a first generation Dominican-American, and the Jill of all Trades behind The Abortion Diary. Melissa travels the world with her podcast, and is a story-sharer and dedicated story-listener, multimedia historian, full-spectrum doula, and a bilingual reproductive justice educator and advocate.  She is also the curator of “ar·ti·facts: abortion stories and histories,” a traveling multimedia exhibit. Her own abortion story and the deep impact sharing it (13 years later) had on her, her family, friends and complete strangers inspired her to create The Abortion Diary. She creates spaces for personal abortion story-sharing, story listening, and capturing diverse abortion experiences; stories that are as different as the people who share them. Since beginning the project in July 2013, she has listened to and recorded over 290 people share their reproductive experiences in 20 states across the United States, over 10 European cities, Canada, The Dominican Republic, and Thailand.  Melissa has been featured on the front page of The Washington Post, on NPR’s Weekend Edition,  a Q&A with Cosmopolitan Magazine,  Latina.comThePool.comRewire, Q&A with Cosmopolitan Magazine,Univision, MSNBC and The Daily Dot.

Madera's visit to Arizona State University is sponsored by the university's Department of English; School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies (SHPRS); and School of Social Transformation (SST) – all units in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences – along with the Human Security Collaboratory (HS Collab).

Note: Madera will give another presentation later this same day (Feb. 27) at 5 p.m. titled "'Abortion! Action! Adventure!': On The Road With The Abortion Diary Podcast."

Lee Bebout
Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018, 12 p.m.
Ross-Blakley Hall (RBHL)
Tempe campus
Free of charge and open to the public