Senior Lecturer, Department of Writing, Social and Cultural Studies, University of Technology Sydney
Oral Historys been one of the methods that have been, its been used more recently, particularly since the 1960s, to try and work out peoples experience of events, or the past, to try and work with that, and its usually collaborative, like you make the history with the person involved, and its been used in a whole lot of areas, increasingly, that involve talking to people about the things that they value, and heritage obviously is one of those areas, but Oral History is also vital in areas like Native Title, in terms of Aboriginal claims to land and in one way, the only way they can ascertain how long peoples attachment has been to land and how they have used it and how is it socially significant, is through the collection of Oral Histories.
And obviously Oral History has a great many other uses in heritage organisations. National Parks is using Oral History as a methodology in terms of working out significance of particular sites, particularly post-contact, theres a huge move away from an assumption that heritage is only, in archaeological terms or Aboriginal terms, pre-contact, or that everythings nineteenth century. So that Oral History comes in when youre talking of a past thats twentieth century and youre looking now to determine what is, or what can be, significant in the future, so obviously its to do with a living heritage.