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Narrating our Pasts : The Social Construction of Oral History - Elizabeth Tonkin

Narrating our Pasts

The Social Construction of Oral History

Paperback Published: 12th June 1995
ISBN: 9780521484633
Number Of Pages: 192

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Oral history is already recognised as an important historical resource, and this study looks at how oral histories are constructed and how they should he interpreted. It also argues for a deeper understanding of their oral and social characteristics. Oral accounts of past events are also guides to the future, as well as being social activities in which tellers claim authority to speak to particular audiences. Like written history and literature, orality has its shaping genres and aesthetic conventions. It likewise has to be interpreted through them. The argument is illustrated through a wide range of examples of memory, narration and oral tradition, including many from Europe and the Americas, and with a recurrent focus on oral histories from the Jlao Kru of Liberia, with whom Elizabeth Tonkin, an anthropologist, has carried out extensive research. She also draws on and integrates the insights of a range of other disciplines, such as literary criticism, linguistics, history, psychology, and communication and cultural studies. Her study points to the importance of crossing the disciplinary boundaries which close off oral productions as 'literary', 'historical', 'traditional' or 'popular'.

Industry Reviews

'... this is a very thoughtful and delightful work, carefully argued, the fruit of wide reading and sustained thought ... It is also a delight to read.' Anthropos '[An] excellent, stimulating and innovative book ... [Tonkin] presents a new way of looking at oral history and also a theoretical discussion on the very nature of oral tradition.' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 'This is a timely book. It brings together matters of current interest in recent works on memory, ethnohistory and orality, and it attempts to synthesise a fruitful approach to a complex body of material ... [It] is suggestive, thought-provoking and never dull. It points throughout towards novel avenues of thought and interesting angles on a fascinating collection of oral and literary sources. It is certainly a book which serious students of oral genres should have on their book-shelves.' The Times Literary Supplement

List of illustrationsp. xii
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Note on orthographyp. xiv
Introductionp. 1
Jlao: an introductory case studyp. 18
The teller of the tale: authors and their authorisationsp. 38
Structuring an account: the work of genrep. 51
Temporality: narrators and their timesp. 66
Subjective or objective? Debates on the nature of oral historyp. 83
Memory makes us, we make memoryp. 97
Truthfulness, history and identityp. 113
Notesp. 137
Bibliographyp. 153
General indexp. 163
Index of names
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780521484633
ISBN-10: 0521484634
Series: Cambridge Studies in Oral & Literate Culture
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 192
Published: 12th June 1995
Publisher: CAMBRIDGE UNIV PR
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.78 x 15.22  x 1.04
Weight (kg): 0.27

Earn 126 Qantas Points
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