Marginalising Oral History

This article is looking at the oral history of the Partition of India, but is also interesting as it addresses the broader issue of the value of oral history as part of general history.  Despite its utility in comprehending tragic events such as the Partition of India, oral history keeps getting rebuffed for its ‘soft’ and ‘subjective’ approach.  Scepticism on the merits of oral history abound, with advocates of the conventional form often looking down upon it as a ‘soft’ approach. One of the chief complaints levelled at oral history is that the statements obtained through interviews are highly subjective, and hence have the potential to create a history far less accurate. They argue that during the recollection of personal or collective memories, certain memories that create ambiguities, and do not suit the broader narrative goals, are often conveniently purged or reshaped, consciously or subconsciously, through a kind of ‘selective amnesia’.  Read full article here.

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