In this 22-minute film Erin Jessee and Hayden Lorimer discuss how the two methods have a number of points of connection but also have some differences in how the research process is approached. They note how they have a common interest in living memory, and agree that their different ways of accessing and reporting on what people remember about the past share a concern to take us beyond official narratives. This is especially important where histories involve difficult subjects, as is the case in post-conflict situations. It is also important to bring out connections between different elements of people’s lives that are significant to them but that may be missing from the stories currently available in the public sphere. Both approaches require careful listening to what people say and how they say it, but they also have a place for prompting, such as through the use of photographs and other visual materials, collage-like. And both require careful consideration by researchers to how they write themselves, other people, and relevant materials into the narratives that are produced, for the purposes of reporting on the past and firing the public imagination to engage with it. 

Researchers in conversation: Erin Jessee, University of Strahtclyde, and Hayden Lorimer, University of Glasgow. 

Resource sheet

We have created a downloadable resource sheet for this video. It has a transcript of the conversation, the list of references, and suggested seminar questions. 

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Please contact SGSSS if you require the document in an alternative format.

References and further readings 

Abrams, Lynn. 2016. Oral History Theory (2nd edition). London: Rutledge.

Blee, Kathleen. 1998. White Knuckle Research: Emotional Dynamics in Fieldwork with Racist Activists. Qualitative Sociology 21(4): 387–388.

Bouka, Yolande. 2015. Researching Violence in Africa as a Black Woman: Notes From Rwanda. Research in Difficult Settings Working Paper Series, http://conflictfieldresearch.colgate.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Bouka_WorkingPaper-May2015.pdf

Cave, Mark and Stephen Sloan (eds.). 2014. Listening on the Edge: Oral History in the Aftermath of Crisis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Fielding, Nigel. 1990. Mediating the Message: Affinity and Hostility in Research on Sensitive Topics. American Behavioral Scientist 33(5): 608-620.

Freund, Alexander. 2014. Confessing Animals: Toward a longue durée History of the Oral History Interview. Oral History Review 41(1): 1–26.

Jessee, Erin. The Limits of Oral History: Ethics and Methodology Amid Highly Politicized Research Settings. Oral History Review 38(2): 287-307.

Jessee, Erin. 2017. Negotiating Genocide in Rwanda: The Politics of History. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Passerini, Luisa. 1979. Work Ideology and Consensus Under Italian Fascism. History Workshop Journal 8: 82-108.

Perks, Robert and Joanna Bornat. 2012. Is your oral history legal and ethical? Oral History Society, http://www.ohs.org.uk/advice/ethical-and-legal/.

Portelli, Alessandro. What Makes Oral History Different. In The Oral History Reader (3rd edition), eds. Robert Perks and Alistair Thomson, 48-58. London: Rutledge.

Schrag, Zachary. 2010. Ethical Imperialism: Institutional Review Boards and the Social Sciences, 1965-2009. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

Sheftel, Anna and Stacey Zembrzycki (eds.). Oral History Off the Record: Toward an Ethnography of Practice. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Sluka, Jeffrey. 2015. Managing Danger in Fieldwork With Perpetrators of Political Violence and State Terror. Conflict and Society 1: 109-124.

Yow, Valerie. 2014. Recording Oral History: A Guide for the Humanities and Social Sciences (3rd edition). New York: Alta Mira Press.

Yow, Valerie. 1997. 'Do I like them too much?' Effects of the Oral History Interview on the Interviewer and Vice-Versa. Oral History Review 24(1): 55-79.

The special issue of Cultural Geographies 21(4) 2014, ‘Excursions: Telling Stories and Journeys’ edited by H. Lorimer and H. Parr, gives a flavour of animated archive; see especially Lorimer’s ‘Homeland’.

Last updated 22 Mar 2017 5:18pm