The Oral and Beyond: Doing Things With Words in Africa by Ruth Finnegan

South Africa: University of Kwa-Zulu Natal Press in conjunction with the University of Chicago Press, 2007. 258 pp. $63 cloth; $25 paper.

“Africa is commonly known as the oral continent,” asserts the anthropologist Ruth Finnegan, who has been studying oral cultural for nearly a half century, from colonization to independence, and from scholarly preoccupation with “the text” to a fuller appreciation of oral sources. “Moving from a position where written texts seemed to hold the central reality and where the oral forms of both the exotic others and the seemingly uncultivated sections of ‘modern’ society were ranked below the written productions of the established canon, there is now a wide appreciation of the existence, the validity and the richness of oral expression as a part of the created cultural achievements of humankind,” she writes. “There is now an extensive literature on oral expression and performance, both in its worldwide incident and more especially for the continent and diaspora of Africa, and a general fascination with the oral his strikingly widened our understanding of what people can do with words, unwritten as well as written.” Although not specifically a work of oral history, Finnegan’s studies of African story telling offer valuable insights to all those grappling with oral sources.

Oral History, tales and memories (Historia Oral, Relatos y Memorias), by Laura Benadiba, 2007

The key for understanding the present is found in our understanding of the past and in our ability to interpret it from a critical and active position. Laura Benadiba’s new book proposes to work in the classroom with the memories and histories of everyday people who, through their story, begin to acknowledge their own place in history.

In the first chapters, the author explains what is Oral History, the benefits of assembling oral sources and the benefits that this methodology provides when teaching adolescents and middle-level students.

Following these introductory chapters, Benadiba describes the characteristics of oral sources and its use as a tool for historical research and in teaching social sciences. She identifies a key moment (often difficult to face) when beginning any research project: transcribing interviews. The author also suggests that the recognition of Memory [Memoria] as a fundamental “element” will only deepen theoretical considerations concerning the importance of oral testimonies.

The last chapter puts forth several methodological strategies that include in-the-classroom oral sources collected by students. Taking into consideration the characteristics of each group of students, these sources can then be adapted accordingly.

In summary, Historia oral, reltos y memorias becomes a canvass where Benadiba shares more than ten years work as an oral historian. This experience assures the reader that the construction and use of oral sources in classrooms can help with the process of handing down the historical record to future generations.

WOMEN MIGRANTS FROM EAST TO WEST Gender, Mobility and Belonging in Contemporary Europe
Edited by Luisa Passerini, Dawn Lyon, Enrica Capussotti & Ioanna Laliotou. Full Description.


History, Anthropology and Oral Sources HAFO
38 Across the Mirror


Representations and Practices

Only one Witness. Carlo Ginzburg The Travels of Practice. Angelo Torre

Representation of the Practice and the Practice of Representation. Roger Chartier

Michel de Certeau and the Limits of Historical Representations. Wim Weymans

Talking to Chartier (Barcelona, 5 de junio de 2007).

The Function of History

Hayden White, Traumatic Nationalism and the Public Function of History. Dirk Moses

A Response to Dirk Moses. Hayden White

“Hard” Times and “Soft” Times. Gaspar Mairal

Oral History:

Tribute to Alexander von Plato

Memory and History: How to Overcome the Conflict? Philippe Joutard

The Unconscious in Action. Dori Laub Independent Archives or Oral History in Italy. Alessandro Portelli

Contrasting Methods of Data Collection and Interpretation. Lutz Niethammer

The Unmentionable: The Cases of Grass and Waldheim. Gerhard Botz

Historia, Antropología y Fuentes Orales Sta. Llúcia, 1. 08002 Barcelona E-mail: [email protected] Web:

OLD STORIES, NEW WAYS: Oral History Association of Australia Journal, No. 29, 2007
| Titles


Darwin Oval: Field of Dreams, Battleground for Rights: Australian Rules Football in Darwin, 1916-1943, Matthew Stephen

The Oral History Waltz: Publishing Their Stories, Elaine Rabbitt

Tjapukai Cultural Renewal in the Kuranda Region of Queensland, Marie Bresson

The Architect and Others: Oral History and Understanding the Evolution of Architectural Ideas and Practices, Paola Favaro

Silence and the History of Menstruation, Carla Pascoe

TRANSIT: A Story Inspired by Melbourne’s Taxi Entrepreneurs from Hadchit, North Lebanon, Christine Eid

Presenting Oral History Transcription in a Dramatic Documentary Form

Courage Under Fire: Remembering the 1994 Bushfires in Southern Sydney, Elizabeth Craig

Making the Most of a Myth: National Identity and the Plight ot Victoria’s Mountain Cattlemen, Fiona Davis

Ex-Political Detainee Forum at Singapore in 2006, Kevin Blackburn

Using the Five Senses to Trigger Memory-From Reminiscence to Oral History, Bob Mitchell

Richard Raxworthy, Independent Oral Historian, and His Oral History Collection in the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Rosemary Block

Oral History, Vol. 35, no 2, Autum 2007


British and American FNS Nurses (1950s-1960s): Oral History Narratives on Nursing, Edith A. West, Ron Iphofen, and Will Griffith

‘How Could These People Do This Sort of Stuff and Then We Have to Look After Them?’ The Ethical Dilemmas of Nursing in the Northern Ireland Conflict, Farhat Manzoor, Greta Jones, and James McKenna

‘Whatever You Say, Say Nothing’: Researching Memory and Identity in Mid-Ulster, 1945-1969, Anna Bryson

Dissonant Memories: National Identity, Political Power, and the Commemoration of World War Two, Christof Dejung

Voices in the Kitchen: Coking Tools as Inalienable Possessions, David Sutton and Micahel Hernandez

Beyond Individual/Collective Memory: Women’s Transactive Memories of Food, Family and Conflict, Graham Smith

Mixed Martial Arts and Internet Forums: A Case Study in Treating Internet Sources as Oral History, John Hopton

Exploring Identity in Later Life Through BBC People’s War Interviews, Sarah Housden and Jenny Zmroczek

All the articles are abstracted on the Oral History Society website:

Oral History Review, Vol 43, no 2, Summer/Fall 2007


Before Columbia: The FWP and American Oral History Research, Jerrold Hirsch

“The Doctor Told Us What He Wanted”: Sm Koenig’s Instructions to WPA Ethnic Group Survey Interviewers, Bruce M. Stave

“That Food of the Memory Which Gives the Clue to Profitable Research”: Oral History asa Source for Local, Regional, and Family History History in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century, Katharina Hering

Method and Mory in the Midwestern “Lincoln Inquiry”: Oral Testimony and Abraham Lincoln Studies, 1865-1938, Keith A. Erekson

Stetson Kennedy Tribute: “The Original Angry Young Man, Kimberly K. Porter

Studs Terkel Tribute: “Curiosity Could Not Kill This Cat,” Kimberly K. Porter

Presidential Oral History: The Clinton Presidential History Project, Russell L. Riley

Oral History and the Gerald R. Ford White House: The Specter of Watergate, Jeffrey Charnley

Commentary on Alistair Thomson’s Essay, “Four Paradigm Transformations in Oral History,” Ronald J. Grele

Response to Commentary, Alistair Thomson