Traditionally, history writing was form numismatic, epigraphic or literary sources. The historian's role involved deciphering and interpreting these sources. This conventional methodology often resulted in diverse views on the same historical event.
Traditionally, history writing was form numismatic, epigraphic or literary sources. The historian’s role involved deciphering and interpreting these sources. This conventional methodology often resulted in diverse views on the same historical event.
How an historian approaches events is a major dimension of historiography as the focus is on the interpreter and not on the source. An oral approach to historiography created a paradigm shift from the interpreter to the source where oral testimonies from the people associated with the historical event was recorded by the historian with little scope for his own interpretation of the subject. With the advent of modern recording technologies and digital archiving, this approach has gained importance making oral history sources primary in reconstructing the past and making it live. Advanced means of interviewing, recording and archiving the significant memories of the people have opened up new interests not only in the field of history as an academic discipline but also in associated social sciences.
Oral history has since evolved as a popular discipline in the western world from the mid-twentieth century but is now gaining ground in India.
Dr.Sujata Menon, an oral historian is presently engaged with the task of interviewing and collecting oral testimonies of freedom fighters of Gujarat. The objective behind collecting these oral testimonies is to enrich the reading on the national freedom struggle through vibrant life stories of individual participants of the struggle.
Through her seminal work Oral History, Reconstructing the Living past, Dr. Sujata Menon has attempted to introduce oral history as a significant technique for understanding and archiving the past. This is a pioneering work and first of its kind in India. The book attempts to propagate the concept of oral history as a discipline and its usages in various fields. It emphasises the application of oral history in Indian schools for making learning effective and insightful. The book explains various methods and techniques of oral history. This is indeed a great reference manual for students, teachers and researchers alike.