Chapter

Metaphors of Self in History: Subjectivity, Oral Narrative, and Immigration Studies

Virginia Yans-McLaughlin

in Immigration Reconsidered

Published in print January 1991 | ISBN: 9780195055108
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199854219 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195055108.003.0010
Metaphors of Self in History: Subjectivity, Oral Narrative, and Immigration Studies

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This chapter explores subjective documents and their relationship to immigration and ethnic studies, fields that historically have found these sources both appealing and problematic. By “subjective documents”, it refers to a broad class of evidence that reveals the participant's view of experiences in which he had been involved. They include autobiographies, life histories, letters, oral narratives, interviews, and court records. The discussion here familiarizes readers with some recent debates over the use and creation of this type of data, giving particular emphasis to phenomenology, hermeneutics, and textual analysis. Looking at the oral interview or narrative exposes both the unique peculiarities of these data and scholarly ambivalence about subjective sources.

Keywords: immigration studies; ethic studies; subjective sources; oral interview; oral history

Chapter.  19175 words. 

Subjects: Methods and Historiography

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