Memory and Remembering in Oral History

Alistair Thomson

in The Oxford Handbook of Oral History

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780195339550
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199940578 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Memory and Remembering in Oral History

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Memory is not a passive depository of facts, but an active process of creation of meanings. This article focuses on the importance of memory and remembering in oral history. The literature about memory ranges across several academic disciplines and is daunting in size and scope. This article also considers approaches to memory and remembering, which can enhance oral historians' understanding of the interview and its interpretation. It begins by charting the history of oral historians' approaches to memory and then distills current research about memory and remembering—from cultural studies, and narrative theory. It explores the idea of memory research by arguing that remembering is not like playing back a tape or looking at a picture; more like telling a story. The consistency and accuracy of memories is therefore an achievement, not a mechanical production. It also explains ideas of narrative theory, memory paradox and social relationships against the backdrop of oral history.

Keywords: memory; passive depository; facts; oral history; narrative theory; memory research; accuracy

Article.  9362 words. 

Subjects: Oral History

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