Archive: ‘Trauma’

Oxford University Press Blog highlights Oral History Review article, ‘Managing Danger in Oral History Fieldwork’

Friday, November 10th, 2017

Following the publication of my latest Oral History Review article, ‘Managing danger in oral historical fieldwork,’ the Oral History Review team requested that I address some follow-up questions on the Oxford University Press blog. Over the past two weeks, these have been published as two separate entries. The first post, ‘Six questions to ask before you hit record,’ highlights three questions aimed at helping oral historians better identify potential areas of risk for participants, and three questions aimed at helping them identify resources within their respective communities that can help them maintain positive mental and physical health, particularly when working on difficult subject matter. For the second post, ‘On burnout, trauma, and self-care,’ Andrew Schaffer posed questions to me that addressed such topics as how the article was being received by oral historians given the tendency for discussions of practitioners’ mental and physical health to be relegated to corridor talks (rather than academic publications, for example), and what oral historians could do better in future to help support each other. It’s wonderful to see the article getting highlighted in this manner, and indeed to see so much interest in the topic of managing danger surrounding oral historical research, not only as it relates to interviewees, but for practitioners as well. I’m looking forward to continuing the conversation at the joint conference hosted by the Oral History Society and the Oral History Network of Ireland on ‘Dangerous oral histories: risks, responsibilities and rewards,’ in Belfast in June 2018.

New position: Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Research Fellow in History at the University of Glasgow

Saturday, May 20th, 2017

I’m excited to announce that this July, I’ll be moving to a new position in History at the University of Glasgow. I’ve accepted a three-year contract as a Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Research Fellow, and will be launching a new research program on Armed Conflict and Trauma. I’ll be continuing my work on Rwanda, but in addition will be focusing on a new research project: “Toward an Oral History of Mass Atrocities: Beyond Trauma and Healing in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Canada.” I’ll continue to work closely with the Scottish Oral History Centre as a Research Associate, and will also be developing new international research networks and collaborations. My email address after 1 July 2017 will be

New Book Review: Listening on the Edge edited by Mark Cave and Stephen Sloan

Saturday, December 24th, 2016

In advance of the next issue of Oral History Review, the journal has published my review of Mark Cave and Stephen Sloan’s new edited volume Listening on the Edge: Oral History in the Aftermath of Crisis (2014) online. To summarize, Listening on the Edge is essential reading for anyone engaged in the practice of oral history in conflict and post-conflict settings, and is particularly valuable for its ability to provoke readers to think through some of the particular ethical and methodological challenges of this kind of research, as well as the potential insights and benefits that it might produce. In the review, I provide a brief summary of each of the volume’s chapters, but this by no means does justice to their importance for the field, nor does it serve as an adequate substitute for a full and careful reading of the volume as a whole. Taken together, I argue that “Listening on the Edge advances the literature on the practice and ethics of crisis oral history by taking readers through the various negotiations that are often inherent in this work. Among its most important contributions, it offers insights on working with witnesses of traumatic events; the necessary distinctions between the often overlapping fields of oral history, psychology, and journalism; the dangers of vicarious trauma and other forms of emotional distress for the interviewer(s); and the necessity of bringing multiple experiences into conversation to reconstruct and comprehend how crises affect peoples’ lives. In doing so, the volume clearly demonstrates the many benefits that can emerge from applying oral history methods and theory to the study of crises, while simultaneously exploring the subfield’s potential pitfalls and limitations. That each chapter is grounded in interview excerpts, bringing interviewees’ voices into conversation with the oral historians’ analysis, is a particular strength of this volume.”

New Book Review: Hunt’s Memory, War and Trauma

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

It’s been far too long since my last post, but the good news is that this means the manuscript writing has been going very well. I’ve reached the halfway point, and hope to be finished a solid first draft by mid-August if all goes well.

My neglect of this website is also partially due to the fact that I’ve been busy presenting at conferences and working on publishing in other areas. Most recently, I’ve learned that my book review of Nigel Hunt’s Memory, War and Trauma has been accepted for publication in the next edition of the Oral History Review.

Overall, this text was a very interesting read, and proved to be hugely informative. Hunt’s goal is to address a series of limitations impacting current psychological understandings of war-related trauma, which he argues are directly related to “focusing too much on the individual, and not enough on the social and cultural world in which we live” (2). Thus, he encourages psychologists who are interested in better understanding war-related trauma to look to the social sciences, particularly the fields of sociology, anthropology, history, political science, and literature analysis. In doing so, he makes a strong case for increased interdisciplinary collaboration. (more…)


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