It’s been a few weeks since Research Associate, Becki Kaur, joined the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre to develop resources on ‘honour’-based violence and forced marriage. In her introductory post, Becki promised that she would update the blog with details of how the collection was progressing. Today, Becki talks about an exciting development in the project, as she sets out to collect oral histories from professionals working in the field. She discusses how this decision came about, why it’s important, and the benefits that oral histories will bring to the collection. If you’re a professional working in this field and you’d like to be involved in this important part of the project, then please read on…
I’ve had an exciting few weeks putting together resources on ‘honour’-based violence (HBV) and forced marriage here at the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre (AIUC). Whilst I’ve been sourcing books and reports and putting together a study guide, my brain has been ticking over with other ways in which to broaden the collection and make it more interesting. With a little (read: a lot) of help from my lovely colleagues, we came up with the idea of including oral histories as part of the resources. Now, I’ll be honest: before joining the AIUC, I wasn’t familiar with oral history. I’d certainly heard the term before – most probably from one of the many research methods textbooks I’d encountered during my PhD – but that was pretty much where my knowledge of this approach began and ended. However, oral histories form an important part of the AIUC’s many collections (you can see some of the past projects here), and so I’ve spent the last few weeks chewing the ear off our project manager and resident oral history expert, Jennie Vickers, to find out more about how these could benefit our HBV collection.
What is oral history and what will it bring to our ‘honour’-based violence collection?
Simply put, oral history is the collection, documentation and preservation of people’s experiences, memories and stories. Oral histories are significant for many reasons, not least because they allow those whose narratives might otherwise be marginalised from ‘traditional’ history to tell their own stories, in their own words.
My own fieldwork involved interviewing domestic abuse practitioners about their perceptions and understandings of HBV. I remember thinking at the time that it was a real shame that the rich and fascinating stories to which I was privy would only ever be used within the confines of my thesis. Including the oral histories of those who work (or who have previously worked) in the field of HBV and forced marriage in the AIUC collection enables these important viewpoints not only to be documented, but also to be shared on a much broader platform. I think oral histories will ‘humanise’ our HBV resources, and allow those accessing them to understand, first-hand, some of the challenges and complexities of working in this area.
Want to be involved?
We’re looking for people who work (or have previously worked) in the field of HBV and/or forced marriage to talk to us about their experiences of doing so. Every practitioner’s experience is different, and this is an opportunity for you to tell us about yours in the way that you want to. Interviews will be conducted by me (Becki) and will take place at a location that is convenient for you. It’s difficult to say how long an interview will last (it depends how much you’ve got to share!) but the minimum will be around 45 minutes. The interview will be audio-recorded and the recordings will be kept in our archive and available for researchers to listen to on request. We’ll also produce a written summary which will be available to the public in our library. You’ll have a chance to review the summary and interview, and agree how your interview can be used. Typically, oral history interviews are conducted without anonymity; however, we recognise that this is a sensitive subject, and so if you wish to remain anonymous then we can put measures in place (such as removing identifying information from transcripts and restricting access to the interview recordings) to accommodate this.
If you’re interested in taking part in this project, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.