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Volume: 36, Issue: 1 (2008)
‘Before My Time’: Recreating Cornwall’s Past Through Ancestral Memory
The growing interest in genealogical research raises the question of how individuals and communities relate to the history of their ancestors. Focusing on the contrasting experiences of interviewees with some form of family connection to Cornwall in the far South West of Britain this article investigates issues of cultural memory, oral tradition and reinvented identities. It highlights the importance of family myths of origin in enabling some individuals to construct a personal sense of identity in contemporary Cornwall. Yet for descendants in Diaspora communities outside the region there is often a need to consciously reinvent their association with the homeland in order to link the past with the present. Preliminary consideration is given to the role of the oral historian when operating within these different settings.
Author(s): Garry Tregidga and Kayleigh Milden
Keywords: kinship; migration; Cornwall; cultural memory; auto-ethnography; cultural identities

Sound, Memory And Dis/Placement: Exploring Sound, Song And Performance As Oral History In The Southern African Borderlands
This paper draws on research conducted in the borderlands of South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland. It proposes that sound, song and the affect of music-making represent a much under-utilised historical research resource, particularly in contexts of spatial and social rupture. Through the revitalisation of two traditional mouthbows and the jews harp – instruments once played by young Nguni women while walking, but remembered now by elderly women only – it explores music’s capacity to operate as both historical text and oral testimony, providing a focus for mobilising collective evocations of self and place, and aimed at raising the level of the voices of a community whose livelihood and sociality are at variance with broader socio-economic and environmental development processes in the region.
Author(s): Angela Impey
Keywords: sound, memory; gender, social and spatial rupture; social action; southern Africa

A Reappraisal Of Insider-Outsider Interviewing: The Tristan Da Cunha Oral History Project
During the course of an oral history project conducted on the island of Tristan da Cunha, a number of questions arose about the processes involved in the collection and recording of oral testimonies. Although the project was set up with the consent of the Island Administrator and the Island Council, numerous problems were encountered in finding people to interview, in promoting an understanding of the project and in identifying the ways in which the community wished to represent itself. The paper considers some of the assumptions and presuppositions that can be made about approaches to the interview and about the impact of linguistic and cultural misunderstandings on the outcome of a preconceived oral history project.
Author(s): Ann Day
Keywords: insider-outsider; assumptions; identity; Tristan da Cunha

Cross-Lingual Oral History Interviewing In China: Confronting The Methodological Challenges
Oral historians have written little about the challenges of interviewing people whose native language is different from their own. This article collects the few existing articles and fragments that engage this topic and attempts to map the key issues. Specifically, the four central problems that emerge are: the role of the interpreter, gaining access, how to conduct the interview and in which language(s), and getting the meaning right. I expand on these four problems through an exposition of my own experience interviewing non-English speakers in China. Finally, the article encourages further research on the challenges of cross-lingual oral history and on the reasons for the paucity of literature on the topic.
Author(s): Norton Wheeler
Keywords: cross-lingual; translation; interpretation; China

Working With Death: An Oral History Of Funeral Directing In Late Twentieth-Century Scotland
The late twentieth century was a period of profound change in death culture, reflecting falling death rates and the rationalisation of death and disposal. This article investigates the experiences of funeral undertakers, a profession who have been in the front line of these changes, but whose working lives have tended to remain hidden from public view. Based on a series of interviews with smaller, independent firms, the study considers the impact of internal change in the funeral business, including attempts at professionalisation and specialisation. It also examines the contribution of broader external forces, such as the medicalisation and secularisation of death. An underlying issue is the funeral director’s attempt at role renegotiation against the background of increased bureaucratisation and rising consumer demands.
Author(s): Elaine McFarland
Keywords: death culture; funeral directors; rationalisation; professionalisation

Manufacturing Memories: Commercial, Team And Individual Narratives In Poultry Production
This paper examines the role of the past in the mass production of poultry. Drawing on oral histories with individuals involved in the UK poultry industry, the article outlines the ways memories of the past are invoked in the narratives deployed to explain contemporary poultry production. These narratives occur at a range of scales, from the individual accounts given by company employees to the collective narratives of company marketing. The paper argues that by tracing the connections between these various narratives and the memories they rely on, we are able to understand different scales of narrative as mutually constituted. This challenges the current dualism apparent in some oral history research which either focuses on the ways that individual narratives fit cultural scripts and lack agency or, conversely, overstates the autonomy of individual memory and sets the collective and the individual as necessarily oppositional.
Author(s): Polly Russell
Keywords: food industry; individual and collective memory; narrative; poultry production

Conference Keynote
Oral History And Community History In Britain: Personal And Critical Reflections On Twenty-Five Years Of Continuity And Change
Author(s): Alistair Thomson

The Oral And Beyond: Doing Things With Words In Africa
Author(s): Ruth Finnegan

Contesting Home Defence: Men, Women And The Home Guard In The Second World War
Author(s): Penny Summerfield and Corinna Peniston-Bird

London Voices, London Lives: Tales From A Working Capital
Author(s): Peter Hall

Imagining The City: Memories And Cultures In Cape Town
Author(s): Sean Field, Renate Meyer And Felicity Swanson (Eds)

On Brick Lane
Author(s): Rachel Lichtenstein

Connecting Histories: A Comparative Exploration Of African-Caribbean And Jewish History And Memory In Modern Britain
Author(s): Gemma Romain

Remembering Refugees: Then And Now
Author(s): Tony Kushner

Oral Literature And Performance Culture – Scottish Life And Society: A Compendium Of Scottish Ethnology, Volume 10
Author(s): John Beech, Owen Hand, Fiona Macdonald, Mark A Mulhern, Jeremy Weston (Eds), Alexander Fenton (General Editor),

Reminiscence Theatre: Making Theatre From Memories
Author(s): Pam Schweitzer

Remembering: Oral History Performance
Author(s): Della Pollock (Ed)

The Investigation
Author(s): Peter Weiss

Memories And Reflections: The Singapore Experience – Documenting A Nation's History Through Oral History
Author(s): Daniel Chew (Ed)

Curating Oral Histories: From Interview To Archive
Author(s): Nancy Mackay