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Title: Review of Tonkin, E., 'Narrating our Pasts: The Social Construction of Oral History', Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1995. xiv, 171pp., 3 maps, 9 plates, £12.95.
Contributor(s): Ryan, John S (author)
Publication Date: 1997
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Abstract: This volume, which first appeared in hardcovers in 1992, treats of an earlier and happier period of Liberia and is the twenty second in a fine, interdisciplinary series which is concerned to explore the oral and social characteristics of particular oral histories. It argues that oral histories are guides to the future, and have their own distinctive sub-genres and aesthetic conventions in their narrative methods. As had been observed of the first edition, the present text "brings together matters of current interest in recent works on memory, ethnohistory and orality" ('Sociological Review') to synthesise most fruitfully a complex mix of oral and literary sources, all of which speak/have spoken to particular audiences, with specific and distinctive conventions. Some of the most fruitful aspects of the text and argument are pinpointed by the "General Index", such as the entries on audience, authority, change, choice, communication, discourse, events (especially pp. 37-41, 66-74), heroes, histories, listeners, memory (especially pp. 97-136), narrators, oral history, past(s), recall/ recollection, societies (pp. 97-104), stories (passim), traditions, we/us, written accounts and the Yoruba. Scholarship is rich but lightly borne, with selective and useful reference to: D. Ben-Amos, P. Bourdieu, H. M. Chadwick, E. Durkheim, R. Finnegan, M. Fortes, R. Hoggart, D. Lowenthal ('The Past is Another Country'), P. Ricoeur, G. M. Trevelyan and M. Weber. As this somewhat catholic and recondite list must suggest, the treatment is both scholarly and unexpectedly readable.
Publication Type: Review
Source of Publication: Lore and Language, 15(1-2), p. 216-217
Publisher: National Centre for English Cultural Tradition (NATCECT), University of Sheffield
Place of Publication: Sheffield, United Kingdom
ISSN: 0307-7144
Field of Research (FOR): 220199 Applied Ethics not elsewhere classified
200209 Multicultural, Intercultural and Cross-cultural Studies
160403 Social and Cultural Geography
HERDC Category Description: D3 Review of Single Work
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