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Past and Present
Volume: 39, Issue: 2 (2011)
Articles
Memories Of Former World War Two Forced Labourers – An International Comparison
As most European societies have struggled to find a consensus for working up their World War Two past, former forced labourers often had to endure ensuing societal initiatives to suppress or instrumentalise their memories or to see them tied to overreaching political or ethical imperatives. This article tries to trace the whereabouts of these memories in societal and individual perspectives. First, forced labour in Nazi Germany can be seen as part of a forced migration experience. Second, the memories of Nazi forced labour have often been used to represent the experiences of collaboration and defeat in World War Two in the respective countries. Third, national political and moral economies have shaped the societal status of former forced labourers’ memories. These memories have hardly found their proper place in most of the respective national pasts.
Author(s): Christoph Thonfeld
Keywords: Forced labour, memories, migration, cultures of remembrance

The Dissonant Lives Of Brazilian Black Women Non-Samba Singers
This essay derives from an oral history project on Brazilian Black women singers whose careers are not exclusively confined to samba and other musical genres usually identified with blackness in the Brazilian imaginary. The interviews challenge the widespread notion that Black musicians should concentrate on samba, and demonstrate features of the lifepaths and struggles shared by a number of successful women singers who succeeded, despite the obstacles they encountered, in creating a new field for themselves and for their artistic peers.
Author(s): Ricardo Santhiago
Keywords: Brazilian popular music, Black women singers, samba, oral history

Has Feminist Oral History Lost Its Radical/Subversive Edge?
Feminist oral historians from the early 1970s, like other radical historians of that era, have begun to wonder about the current state of oral history: has it become respectable; lost its radical/subversive edge? Because our work was anchored in the radical movements of the period, is it rudderless today in the absence of a unified social movement? Or, do our own autobiographical and political trajectories deter us from a critical reassessment of our early work and the radical and subversive potential of contemporary oral history? This paper discusses the nature of earlier and current feminist oral history by drawing both on the personal reflections of two generations of US and UK feminist oral historians and an analysis of some contemporary work. Ultimately, I conclude that despite the different political trajectories of the second and emergent generations, there is still a tradition of viewing/treating oral history narrative as a ‘discourse of oppositional consciousness and agency.’
Author(s): Sherna Berger Gluck
Keywords: Women’s Liberation Movement (US, UK), advocacy oral history, women of colour (US), social movements, grassroots organising, feminism

Moving Stories, Women’s Lives: Sharing Authority In Oral History
This essay explores my collaboration with four women in the making of our book Moving Stories: an intimate history of four women across two countries. How did our relationship affect the ways in which these women, who had emigrated from Britain to Australia in the 1950s and 1960s, relate their life stories in an interview? How did we 'share authority' in both the interview and the writing? To what extent and in what ways did our relationship enable or constrain my writing about their lives? What were the tensions between my responsibility to the women and my responsibility to history?
Author(s): Alistair Thomson
Keywords: migration, shared authority, collaborative biography, women's history

Storytelling, Floods, Wildflowers And Washlands: Oral History In The River Ouse Project
Like other extreme weather events, floods loom large in people’s memories and recent interdisciplinary work has sought to harness these accounts. Following work that showed oral histories may be able to provide the most vivid accounts of past land-use, the River Ouse project used oral history narratives alongside ecology and geography in order to inform a flood alleviation experiment in Sussex. This paper takes a look at the challenges of using oral history in order to gain ecologically measurable benefits and the new methods that emerged as the project integrated local people into the project. The article illustrates the wealth of information beneficial to washland flood alleviation that can be gained when oral history narratives are interwoven with archival, photographic, cartographic and ecological field surveys. The article describes the benefits that oral history accounts have brought to River Ouse flood alleviation efforts and concludes that oral history has a vital role to play in ecological research.
Author(s): Andrew Holmes and Margaret Pilkington
Keywords: Flooding, wildflowers, ecology, agriculture, nature conservation, interdisciplinary research

Whose Story Counts? Constructing An Oral History Of The Open University At 40
The Open University (OU) celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2009. As the UK’s original adult distance-learning university the OU had a commitment to use broadcast media and OU published texts as a means of teaching and communicating, internally and externally. Pioneering such distance learning pedagogy and technology was based in a wide range of skills and experience, both academic and non-academic and created within a non-conventional university setting. This article explores some of the tensions involved in carrying out an oral history of a relatively ‘young’, pioneering and geographically dispersed university such as the OU including negotiating ‘whose story counts?’ I argue that while oral history is a suitable source for organisational histories it leads to competing histories.
Author(s): Hilary Young
Keywords: Open University; distance learning; organisations; Milton Keynes

Public History
Woodberry Down Housing Estate: Community Representation And Advocacy In Print And Film
In the following discussion, oral historian Joanna Bornat and film-maker Tom Hunter debate the strengths and limitations of text and film in recording and representing the oral history of Woodberry Down Housing Estate in Stoke Newington, London. After outlining the purpose and focus of each project, each participant discusses the issue of shared authority and the relationship with the community in creating the final product; the different analytical, interpretive and emotional qualities of text and film; representing diverse communities; and the role of advocacy for historians and film-makers.
Author(s): Anna Green, Joanna Bornat, and Tom Hunter
Keywords: text, film, community, audience, shared authority, emotion, advocacy

Learning
Digital Story Telling With English For Speakers Of Other Languages (Esol)
Author(s): Sophie Mitchell

Reviews
They Say In Harlan County: An Oral History
Author(s): Alessandro Portelli

Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011, 467pp, £22.50, hardback.


The Oral History Manual: Second Edition
Author(s): Barbara W. Sommer and Mary Kay Quinlan

Lanham, Massachusetts and Plymouth, UK: Altamira Press, 2009, 130pp, £44.95 (hardcover), £19.95 (paperback). Part of the ‘American Association for State and Local History’ series


Memory, War And Trauma
Author(s): Nigel C Hunt

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010, 232pp, £19.99, paperback.


The Unfinished Revolution: Making Sense Of The Communist Past In Central-Eastern Europe
Author(s): James Mark

New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2010, 312 pp, £30 hardback.


Greater Expectations: Living With Down Syndrome In The Twenty First Century
Author(s): Jan Gothard

Fremantle, Fremantle Press, 2011, 352pp, £14.95, paperback.


From Farms To Foundries: An Arab Community In Industrial Britain.
Author(s): Kevin Searle

Cultural Identity Studies, vol 17, edited by Helen Chambers Bern, Peter Lang AG, International Academic Publishers, 2010, 232pp, £34, paperback.


Work And Identity: Historical And Cultural Contexts
Author(s): John Kirk and Christine Wall

Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, 254pp, £55.00, hardback.