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Teaching Heritage

Board of Studies NSW

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Paula Hamilton

Senior Lecturer, Department of Writing, Social and Cultural Studies, University of Technology Sydney

Oral History’s been one of the methods that have been, its been used more recently, particularly since the 1960s, to try and work out people’s experience of events, or the past, to try and work with that, and it’s 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 people’s 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, there’s a huge move away from an assumption that heritage is only, in archaeological terms or Aboriginal terms, pre-contact, or that everything’s nineteenth century. So that Oral History comes in when you’re talking of a past that’s twentieth century and you’re looking now to determine what is, or what can be, significant in the future, so obviously it’s to do with a living heritage.

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