Introduction: Remembering

  • Della Pollock
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Oral History book series (PSOH)


While scholars and practitioners in any number of fields, across the university and public humanities, are turning to performance as both an analytic and a practice—as a way of both describing and entering into the creative work of social transformation—oral history and performance enjoy a unique synergy. Oral historians and performance scholars/practitioners are increasingly discovering shared and complementary investments in orality, dialogue, life stories, and community-building or what might more generally be called living history. By which I don’t mean reenactments or heritage theater exactly but the process of materializing historical reflection in live representation as both a form (a container) and a means (a catalyst) of social action. Performance—whether we are talking about the everyday act of telling a story or the staged reiteration of stories—is an especially charged, contingent, reflexive space of encountering the complex web of our respective histories. It may consequently engage participants in new and renewed understandings of the past. It may introduce alternative voices into public debate. It may help to identify systemic problems and to engage a sense of need, hope, and vision. As live representation, performance may in effect bring imagined worlds into being and becoming, moving performers and audiences alike into palpable recognition of possibilities for change. Through the incorporation of oral histories into public memory, it may most fundamentally ensure that “those who have given up their time to talk, know that their words have been taken seriously” (Slim and Thompson, 2).


Oral History Audience Member Public Memory Oral History Interview Live Representation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Della Pollock 2005

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  • Della Pollock

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