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Autumn 2003
Volume: 31, Issue: 2 (2003)
Analysing the Analysed: Transference and Counter-Transference in the Oral History Encounter
Based on life-story interviews with psychoanalytic psychotherapists, this article demonstrates the value of thinking psychoanalytically about the oral history encounter. It argues that concepts of transference and counter-transference can be valuable resources, not only in helping oral historians to deal with difficult moments within the interview, but in interpretation. Contrary to some recent work within the field, which has focused on the narrative construction of identities, the article warns against too exclusive a focus upon the words spoken in a life story interview. The interview is not simply a narrative, but rather, a relationship in which there are two subjectivities in play. The life story that results from this encounter is always informed by unconscious dynamics. The problem for the researcher is how to remain sensitive to these dynamics during the interview, and how such sensitivity can enrich subsequent understanding. A key issue here concerns the researcher's capacity to tolerate, and reflect upon, anxiety. These concerns are investigated through an analysis of transference processes in two inter- views with psychotherapists.
Author(s): Michael Roper
Keywords: interview relationship; reflexivity; subjectivity; psychoanalysis; transference; counter- transference; unconscious; Kleinian theory; Freudian theory

Hardship, Help and Happiness in Oral History Narratives of Women's Lives in Ireland, 1921-1961
This article, based mainly on oral history research carried out in the 1990s, argues that the questions we ask of the past can yield ambiguous information which is difficult to interpret. Finding out that women of the house in 1920s-1960s Ireland worked hard, often controlled the money and made the decisions, tells us little about their every day lives. When women surrendered economic independence for marriage - as progressively fewer of them were inclined to do, from the mid-1940s - they often prioritized comfort over control, and found some kinds of spousal help and involvement better than others.
Author(s): Caitriona Clear
Keywords: women's history; housework; Ireland; memory

Support Not Scorn: The Theory and Practice of Maternity Almoners in the 1960s and 1970s
The 1960s are widely held to have been a period of sexual liberation. This was also a time of rising illegitimacy figures and a move towards a more integrated system of social work. This article looks at the dominant theories of illegitimacy and social work available to almoners working in maternity hospitals in Scotland at that time and, by contrasting this with oral testimony, shows that in practice almoners frequently ignored their theoretical training to listen to women's particular needs and to facilitate informed choice. This challenges the views of those who regarded social workers merely as agents of the state. It also demonstrates how oral testimony can be used to distinguish between required theoretical knowledge and the actual practice with social work clients.
Author(s): Rona Ferguson
Keywords: social work; illegitimacy; theory & practice; health related professions; oral history

'I Live on My Memories': British Return Migrants and the Possession of the Past
The ways in which migrants remember and tell their life stories are often illuminating about the nature and meaning of the migration experience. This article focuses on the memories of British people who returned from Australia after emigrating on the postwar assisted passage migration scheme. The life stories of British postwar migrants who remained in Australia have been characterised as 'epic stories' which chart the struggle and ultimate success of the migrant. We anticipated that the return migrants might regard their return from Australia as something of a failure, and that in interviews they might remember it with bitterness or disappointment. And yet, we have been struck by the very positive nature of memories of the time in Australia. Our expectations have been challenged, and we have been forced to ask some important questions about memory and migration. Why are the years in Australia often remembered as 'the time of my life'? Why are some memories more valuable than others? Do memories serve particular purposes for migrants.
Author(s): Alistair Thomson
Keywords: migration; memory; return migrants; Australia; Britain

Stories of Love, Pain and Courage: Aids Orphans and Memory Boxes
This article describes the use and value of 'memory boxes' that were created for South African children who had lost a parent to HIV/AIDS. The Memory Box Programme, an initiative of the Sinomlando Project, an oral history centre based at the School of Theology, University of Natal, was established in 2000 to respond to the emotional needs of children of families affected or infected by HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the memory boxes is to promote what psychologists call resilience in these children. Sharing of memories of the sick person or of the deceased, and recording those memories and storing them in a memory box, helps family members to break the silence about disease or death. The memory boxes create a space to talk about sickness and death and in this way help families to cope with the loss of the loved person. The article describes the process of creating memory boxes in partnership with family members in Durban, and discusses the value of this type of memory work.
Author(s): Philippe Denis and Nokhaya Makiwane
Keywords: HIV/AIDS; South Africa; children; memory boxes; bereavement

Public History
Unseen Stories: Video History in Museums
'Unseen Stories' argues that there could and should be much wider use of video histories in museums today. Given the enormous popularity of " oral history on television in the past decade the use of video histories in museums - and elsewhere - has been surprising by its absence. It has been due to lack of money, expertise and a strong feeling amongst practitioners that video history was not the most natural medium for documenting life stories. New developments in video technology now allow much easier and cheaper use of this medium. The visual dimension of oral history adds emotional power to life story recordings and displays which can heighten their impact - and is well worth the extra effort. There is now a new mood in museums in which there is likely to be much greater use of video history in the near future.
Author(s): Steve Humphries
Keywords: video history; museums; video interviews; oral history

Young Roots and Oral History
Author(s): Rob Perks

Caribbean Families in Britain and the Transatlantic World
Author(s): Harry Goulbourne, Mary Chamberlain

Seeking the Enemy
Author(s): Lorraine Sitzia, Arthur Thickett

Women, Class and Education
Author(s): Jane Thompson

Not Quite Sisters: Women with Learning Difficulties Living in Convent Homes
Author(s): Mary Stuart

The Roots of Environmental Consciousness: Popular Tradition and Personal Experience
Author(s): Stephen Hussey, Paul Thomson

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

Writing Your Life Story: How to Record and Present Your Memories for Future Generations to Enjoy
Author(s): Michael Oke

Onion Johnnies
Author(s): Ian MacDougall

Lethal Work: A History of the Asbestos Tragedy in Scotland
Author(s): Ronald Johnston, Arthur Mclvor

Voices of Leith Dockers: Personal Recollections of Working Lives
Author(s): Ian MacDougall

The Museum of Liverpool Life - Albert Dock