2011 | 1 | 9-34
Article title

AN INFORMER, A WITNESS TO HISTORY, A NARRATOR - A FEW EPISTEMOLOGICAL AND ETHICAL THEMES IN ORAL HISTORY (Informator, swiadek historii, narrator - kilka watków epistemologicznych i etycznych oral history)

Title variants
Languages of publication
The article presents main trends that have been present in oral history of Anglo-Saxon, German and Polish cultures since the 1960s till today. The thesis of the article is comprised in the text's structure: an account of the history and methodological variety of oral history in terms of definitions given - now or in the past - to a person being interviewed. According to the author, these definitions reflect epistemological horizons of researchers' expectations, the ethical aspects of their research subject choices and ethical status of oral history in contemporary culture. 'Informer' is a term taken form sociology. It is typical for the days when oral history tried to become part of the modernist paradigm dominant in the 1960s and 70s.A crisis in epistemology in 1980s shifted the scientific interest to linguistic aspect of cognition, introducing the term 'narrator' to oral history. The author discusses two trends in which this word appears along with a category of 'experience': a German biographical method which was popular also in Poland, and a method of research formulated under the influence of Alessandro Portelli, in which the main role is played by relations between a narrator/speaker and a historian. On the other hand, the concept of 'a witness to history', predominant in Polish oral history, represents specific epistemological and ethical paradoxes which have their origins in circumstances, in which this domain of 'civic historiography' was born. Finally, the author focuses on ethical issues of conducting an interview, and a problem of transcribing and editing an oral narrative.
Physical description
Document type
  • Marta Kurkowska-Budzan, Uniwersytet Jagiellonski, Instytut Historii, ul. Golebia 13, 31-007 Kraków, Poland
Document Type
Publication order reference
CEJSH db identifier
YADDA identifier
JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.