The earliest impetus for this paper comes from two graduate seminars: the first at Rutgers University organised by József Böröcz, and a second seminar on qualitative methods, which I taught at Binghamton University. I owe much to the students and participants in both the seminars for their enthusiasm and strongly expressed desire for work that contextualises oral histories within a larger debate on methods in the social sciences. The very first draft of this paper was written for a weeklong feminist workshop, “Exploring Gender, Redefining the Field: Feminist Journeys in the Social Sciences, Humanities and the Arts” at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, India in June 2009. I am grateful to the participants – especially Uma Chakravarty, for organizing it, and Kumkum Roy, V. Geetha, Sharmila Rege, Padma Venkataraman, Anagha Tambe, Kavita Panjabi, Lata Singh, and S. Anandhi for their comments. An early version of the paper was presented also at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in Delhi. I thank my colleagues, especially Priyadarshini Vijaisri, Shail Mayaram, Madhu Kishwar, Ravi Vasudevan, and Ravikant, as well as Raunaq Jahan (Rajni Kothari Chair, 2010) for a stimulating discussion. Of course, my biggest debt is owed to the two women whose life-stories I draw on for my analysis.
Between Craft and Method: Meaning and Inter-subjectivity in Oral History Analysis
Article first published online: 26 NOV 2012
© 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Journal of Historical Sociology
Volume 25, Issue 4, pages 578–600, December 2012
How to Cite
SARKAR, M. (2012), Between Craft and Method: Meaning and Inter-subjectivity in Oral History Analysis. Journal of Historical Sociology, 25: 578–600. doi: 10.1111/johs.12000
- Issue published online: 13 DEC 2012
- Article first published online: 26 NOV 2012
This paper has three overarching aims: to contextualise oral history within larger debates over methods in the social sciences; to highlight the peculiar strengths as well as complexities of oral history as a method; and finally to elucidate some of these methodological issues through insights drawn from analysis of oral histories of two elderly Bengali Muslim women.