Oral History as an Autobiographical Practice

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Oral history has changed its focus since the 1970s. It is still an important method of recovering neglected histories, but whereas once oral historians aspired to collect objective data from eye witnesses, practitioners now increasingly regard the methodology as an autobiographical practice centred on the subjectivity of the narrator. As the representative sample loosened its grip, the need to understand how subjectivity is constituted in an interview became more urgent. Oral history demanded revision of the historical agenda in the 1970s; the changes in its orientation challenge how history itself is conceptualized. This article explores some of the implications of the shift, drawing on two projects on Britain in the Second World War for illustration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages13
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


  • oral history, subjectivity, narrative, cultural circuit, life review, composure, Second World War


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