Rethinking Oral History Processes

Questions and issues surrounding the process of conducting oral history (questions formed collectively, as a response to some readings, particularly Benson and Nagar’s “Collaboration as Resistance? Reconsidering the processes, products, and possibilities of feminist oral history and ethnography”)

-How might we prevent depoliticization or deradicalization?

-How do we resist the demands of institutions that seem willing to fund oral history projects?

-Power and knowledge – how do we not lead respondents to tell the stories we want to hear?

-Sharing power – how do we define the “problem” together with the community? How do we encourage the community to generate its own agenda for collective action/mobilization?

-What does it mean to collaborate? How do we make all steps of the process more inclusive and accessible to all those who have participated?

-Prioritizing the larger process of building relationships with communities

-We must focus on continuing to ground and politicize the key questions being investigated by looking at broader connections to surrounding economic systems, historical formations of cultural norms, etc.

-How do we resist the idea that knowledge is beyond the communities; what does it mean to see the people in communities as “experts” of their own lives?

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