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Autumn 2019
Volume: 47, Issue: 2 (2019)
When two tribes go to war: Orange parades, religious identity and urban space in Liverpool, 1965 -1985
This article uses oral histories of Liverpool's Orange Lodge parades to map the complex reality of the city's sectarianism in the late twentieth century. Contrary to previous studies, it proposes that Liverpool's inner city remained culturally and physically divided by denomination and that, by creating a transitory framework within the everyday fabric of urban life, parading remained the most acute method of demonstrating sectarian identities. These narratives demonstrate oral history's ability to expose popular religious cultures. They question what is meant by belief and how it relates to communal identity, collective memory and urban space, and challenges our understanding of secularisation and religious decline in postwar Britain.
Author(s): Daniel Warner
Keywords: Liverpool; secularisation; sectarianism; community; collective memory

The home and the nation: an oral history of Indian women doctors, national development and domestic worlds
Women doctors in post-colonial India were an integral part of the developmental regime envisaged by policy makers in the field of public health, especially in efforts to control overpopulation and regulate maternal and infant health in a newly independent nation embracing modernity and progress. Oral history interviews demonstrate that women doctors perceived themselves as crucial to this process of nation building, and their role in providing healthcare to Indian women placed them on an equal footing with their male colleagues. However, this narrative of equality did not often find its way into domestic spaces, and oral history interviews reveal the ways in which women doctors were forced to negotiate, modify and sometimes accommodate other narratives.
Author(s): Archana Venkatesh
Keywords: women doctors; medicine; development; India; private lives

Voices of Kosovo in Manchester
This article presents a study of eleven oral histories undertaken as part of the community oral history project 'Voices of Kosovo in Manchester' between 2014 and 2016. The interviewees, who are mainly young adults, recount their experiences during the conflict in Kosovo in the late 1990s, and their move to Manchester, England as refugees in 1999. The study examines the material through the lens of 'voice' (Bakhtin): the role of a variety of individual voices and the role of public voices incorporated in the interviewees' discourse. It is suggested that the childhood memory of ethno-political conflict lends itself to the expression of a multiplicity of voices.
Author(s): Siobhan Brownlie
Keywords: Kosovar refugees; memory; voice

'I should never tell anybody that my mother was shot': understanding personal testimony and family memories within Soviet Lapland
This article examines the biography of a dual-heritage descendant of a Norwegian settler and indigenous Sámi on the Kola Peninsula in north-west Russia, whose parents became victims of Stalin's terror. Analysing personal experience with oral history methods reveals that the protagonists were trying to shape actively their own and their fellows' fates. This challenges the common script of passive victims within a totalitarian state. The narrator's emphasis on agency as well as her humanising of state representatives are discussed as ways of giving meaning to her family's history and strategies for coping with traumatic childhood events.
Author(s): Lukas Allemann
Keywords: Lapland; Sámi; Norwegian; Stalinism; Kola Peninsula; grassroots agency

'Local justice needs local knowledge': summary justice in North Devon, 1975-2018
Summary justice is delivered in Magistrates' Courts in England and Wales. The number of courts and magistrates in England and Wales is shrinking rapidly; neoliberal arguments based on efficiency and cost underpin this. North Devon is a rural region of England that has lost local courts. This paper presents material from an oral history of North Devon magistrates. Emerging from the interviews is a strong commitment to fairness and justice enhanced by local knowledge. Oral history as a means of facilitating alternative accounts of government policy is discussed. The limitations of the study are reviewed and suggestions for further research are outlined.
Author(s): Malcolm Cowburn
Keywords: professional autobiographies; law and order; summary justice; magistrates; oral history epistemology and methodology

The problems of commissioned oral history: the swine flu 'crisis' of 2009
An oral history of the response of the UK Health Protection Agency (HPA) to swine flu in 2009 revealed how, even after extensive pre-planning, the turn of events took health agencies by surprise. The HPA, rather than the NHS, initially ran the on-the-ground response, and tensions occurred at the local level where health agencies operated uneasily in relation to each other. At the national level, politicians were unwilling to drop a crisis response and were divided about the nature of risk communication to the public. This oral history exercise, which ran into trouble with its funders, throws light on both the problems of commissioned, government-funded oral history and the issues for such history at a time of crisis.
Author(s): Virginia Berridge and Suzanne Taylor
Keywords: swine flu; crisis; commissioned oral history; health policy

Life stories from the House of Commons: the History of Parliament oral history project
Since 2011 the History of Parliament's oral history project has interviewed former MPs to create a sound archive of twentieth-century British politics. This article explains the archive to date and discusses the practicalities of organising a long-running oral history project. Using our interviews as examples, we approach methodological issues of oral history when interviewing public figures, including recognising and challenging practised narratives and legacy-building discourses. Finally, we argue that the archive is a vital source to understand the experience of life as an MP, the nature of political careers and the culture of the House of Commons. It reveals politicians both with similar values to ordinary people and with diverse personal understandings of the role of an MP.
Author(s): Emma Peplow and Priscila Pivatto
Keywords: history of Parliament; House of Commons; politicians’ life stories; UK Parliament

Public History
Potter's field as heterotopia: death and mourning at New York City's edge
Since 1869, New York City has been burying its poorest people on Hart Island, a hidden-in-plain-sight spot at the city's edge that is its potter's field or public graveyard. By now, that is about one million people, all buried in mass, unmarked graves and all buried by prisoners of the city's primary jail. Michel Foucault called places like Hart Island heterotopias because they are separate spaces that mirror our values and social norms back at us. This article interweaves Foucault's concept of heterotopia with excerpts from oral history interviews with homeless and formerly homeless activists and with a former prisoner who worked the burial detail to argue that Hart Island tells us about us and the way we marginalise the poor, in death as in life.
Author(s): Leyla Vural
Keywords: Hart Island; potter's field; New York City; Foucault; heterotopia

Oral History in schools - an ongoing discussion
This article is based on a series of recent discussions that were held subsequent to a one-day event at the British Library in 2017. The purpose of the event was to develop a set of online resources and information for teachers and other educators and to support the development of a longer-term Oral History Society (OHS) strategy. During the event, a number of themes emerged that clearly necessitated greater thought and exploration and these were discussed at length with event participants earlier this year. This article outlines the parameters of these discussions so as to engender further discussion and thought. It focuses on who is best placed to be oral history practitioners in schools and it explores barriers and realities beyond the logistical difficulties. Importantly, it reflects on the nature of oral history in schools, the notion of best practice and the challenges facing the OHS.
Author(s): Kate Melvin
Keywords: schools; young people; oral history

Surviving State Terror: Women's Testimonies of Repression and Resistance in Argentina
Author(s): Barbara Sutton

One Step Toward Jerusalem: Oral Histories of Orthodox Jews in Stalinist Hungary
Author(s): Saandor Bacskai

Nursing Through the Years: Care and Compassion at the Royal London Hospital
Author(s): Sue Boase, Loretta Bellman, Sarah Rogers and Barbara Stuchfield

Archive That, Comrade! Left Legacies and the Counter Culture of Remembrance
Author(s): Phil Cohen