Journal Article

“Every Morning before You Open the Door You Have to Watch for that Brown Envelope”: Complexities and Challenges of Undertaking Oral History with Ethiopian Forced Migrants in London, U.K.

David Palmer

in The Oral History Review

Published on behalf of Oral History Association

Volume 37, issue 1, pages 35-53
Published in print January 2010 | ISSN: 0094-0798
Published online March 2010 | e-ISSN: 1533-8592 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ohr/ohq041
“Every Morning before You Open the Door You Have to Watch for that Brown Envelope”: Complexities and Challenges of Undertaking Oral History with Ethiopian Forced Migrants in London, U.K.

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The experience, “voice,” and perceptions of the “individual refugee” is conspicuous by its virtual absence from academic research. The few studies dealing with black and minority ethnic experiences from an emic perspective in relation to mental health do not specifically refer to refugees or asylum seekers. This article explores the use of oral history techniques when researching Ethiopian forced migrants in the U.K. Based on two pilot research projects which explored Ethiopian culture and experience in reference to mental health and well-being, it will focus on some of the complexities and challenges encountered. This article acknowledges the need for an understanding of cultural traditions as well as history and experience when planning and implementing such research as this proved to be an essential part of the research process, ensuring that individual stories and truths were allowed to evolve. The oral history approach for this research therefore ensured that the experiential knowledge of the Ethiopian forced migrant participants was given space, authenticity, and validity.

Keywords: ethics; Ethiopians; forced migration; mental health; oral history

Journal Article.  7401 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Oral History

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