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Spring 2021
Volume: 49, Issue: 1 (2021)
Hobday's hands: recollections of touch in veterinary oral histories
This article explores accounts of touch in recollections of twentieth-century British veterinary practice. The meanings of sensory experience are context-specific and revealing of how we relate to the world. Veterinary narrators are skilful in describing tactile procedures, and their reflections on hands illuminate aspects of professional identity. Of all the senses, touch is unique in its reciprocity. In these narratives, animals are beings whose lives interact with our own. Oral history is told from a human perspective but can nevertheless recognise other standpoints. Sensory evidence offers a means towards this, enabling oral history to contribute to a more inclusive vision that recognises the interconnectedness of human and non-human animal lives.
Author(s): Sue Bradley
Keywords: the senses; veterinary; animals; touch; tacit knowledge; agriculture

'Not just a building, a community': staff reflections on former historic asylum sites
This article draws on interviews with former staff members from three historic asylum sites in the north of England. It examines the attachments staff felt towards these sites, which have often been considered tainted or stigmatised. These insider narratives provide a contrast to the often negative outsider views of asylums. Former staff experiences of space can also be characterised in terms of inside and outside; although they lived regimented lives, they were free to come and go around their workplace, unlike patients. Their memories reveal them having inhabited an in-between world, where the isolation of these institutions separated them from the outside community, of which they were also a part. This article builds on limited existing work about staff experiences and their narratives, further highlighting the wide-ranging and often contested meanings of these historic buildings and sites.
Author(s): Carolyn Gibbeson
Keywords: psychiatric hospitals; former asylums; mental hospitals; psychiatric staff; hidden histories; heritage

'You don't pay attention to that sort of thing': avoidance, minimisation and denial in narratives of Northern Irish racism
Since the peace process took shape during the 1990s, migration to Northern Ireland has increased dramatically, a trend accompanied by disturbing rises in hate crime. In 2015, with debates about racism and ethnic diversity increasingly prominent in Belfast, I began an oral history project examining the lives of immigrant communities in twentieth-century Northern Ireland. Based upon preliminary archival research, it seemed likely that interviews would be filled with harrowing discussions of abuse, exclusion and discrimination. While these themes did emerge, the majority of first-generation respondents described life in Northern Ireland with considerable warmth. Instead of speaking out about racism, many interviewees were at pains to diminish its significance. In outlining this trend of minimisation, this article explores how oral history can complicate seemingly routine conclusions.
Author(s): Jack Crangle
Keywords: racism; discrimination; Northern Ireland; minorities

'Me a free man': resistance and racialisation in the Canada-Caribbean Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program
The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP, founded 1966) is a guest-worker scheme which brings workers from the Commonwealth Caribbean and Mexico to Canada to work short-term contracts on farms and in other agribusiness operations. Drawing on oral history interviews with Caribbean workers and Canadian employers, this article explores worker resistance within the scheme. It argues that resistance was not limited to on-the-job actions nor was it concerned solely with improving workplace conditions. Instead, in questions of power and resistance within the programme, ideologies of race loomed especially large, and West Indian workers' struggles for better conditions were inextricably linked with a discursive battle over racialisation and identity, in particular what it meant to be black, Jamaican, Barbadian or Trinidadian.
Author(s): Edward Dunsworth
Keywords: racialisation; resistance; labour; migration; Canada

'My father always nagged and went on': the role of conversations in building collective memory of the 1951 New Zealand waterfront dispute
An oral history is one link in a long chain of conversations that an interviewee has about their past. Oral historians have talked about the role that conversation plays in creating collective memories, but they have often treated these conversations as unknowable. Using the New Zealand 1951 waterfront dispute as a case study, this article explores what interviewees can tell us about when they have decided to talk, or remain silent, about their past. It argues that people can tell us about their agency when it comes to remembering. People have decided with whom they will talk about their past and when they are going to stay silent, and this affects the collective memories they build.
Author(s): Grace Millar
Keywords: collective memory; family history; strikes; oral culture

Memories of a second generation: exile, identity and the Spanish Civil War
How do people whose parents were exiles understand their identity and their place of belonging? This oral history project involved interviewing two individuals whose parents fled to France in 1939 as Catalan exiles of the Spanish Civil War. Through deep listening to the interviews, the author discovered contrasts in how the memories themselves were communicated, transforming this into not only an exploration of community and cultural identity in exile, but of the expression of memory and what it can reveal about identity and culture.
Author(s): Ona Bantjes-Rafols
Keywords: exile; inherited memory; Catalonia; Spanish Civil War; identity; community; France

Difficult navigation: dealing with divided memories in post-genocide Rwanda
Conducting oral history interviews in post-genocide Rwanda is difficult not only because of the high level of trauma experienced in all sectors of society, but also because of ideological polarisation. Some insist on the duty to remember and commemorate the genocide against the Tutsi in order to avoid its repetition while others suggest that the current government uses the genocide to dissimulate past or current failures. This article discusses the challenges faced during a five-year oral history project on the manner in which two Rwandan churches, the Catholic Church and the Presbyterian Church, handled the memory of the genocide after 1994. It argues that, unsettling at it is, interviewing people with contradictory views about the past generates critical empathy and leads to a more balanced view of history.
Author(s): Philippe Denis
Keywords: Rwanda; churches; genocide; contested memory; critical empathy

Memories in motion: film elicitation and home movies from East Germany
This article draws attention to the significance of moving images for historical research, highlighting the home movie as a stimulator of communicative memory. By using film elicitation, this article explores visual and oral memory-making. It examines how home movies mediate recollections of everyday life in East Germany, a process that stimulates male technical discourse and female self-marginalisation during film elicitation. The article demonstrates how home movies from East Germany contribute to the creation of conflicted family memory and collective memory. Finally, it argues that film elicitation is a relevant oral history and visual history method, as well as a useful approach when images lack contextual data.
Author(s): Sebastian Thalheim
Keywords: East Germany; home movies; film elicitation; memory

Public History
When work is history and history is work: museums, oral testimonies and authenticities
This article reflects not only on how museums have used oral history to interpret the history of work, but also on how the work of museums has changed over the last fifty years. It explores the role of museums in engaging people with the history of work through oral sources, from recorded interviews to participatory practice and face-to-face interaction. Museums have traditionally focussed on the primacy of the object. Representing large-scale and globalised industries in museums challenges this. A greater reliance on oral testimonies and participatory approaches is necessary to enable museums to interpret the significance of the material heritage of work for community and national identities.
Author(s): Beth Thomas
Keywords: authenticity; work; participatory museums; heritage; Wales

Narrating South Asian Partition: Oral History, Literature, Cinema
Author(s): Anindya Raychaudhuri

Our Crime Was Being Jewish: Hundreds of Holocaust Survivors Tell Their Stories
Author(s): Anthony S Pitch

The Ideal Diplomat? Women and Irish Foreign Affairs, 1946-1990
Author(s): Anne Marie O'Brien

The Romance of American Communism
Author(s): Vivian Gornick

Swansea University: Campus and Community in a Post-War World, 1945-2020,
Author(s): Sam Blaxland