As the conducting of interviews is a central part of our research methodology, in November 2023 our team held an internal seminar on the topic of oral history and oral history interviews. Our guest speaker was Jakub Gałęziowski from the University of Warsaw and the Polish Oral History Association.
As an introduction Jakub offered us an overview about the history and development of oral history in Poland. His presentation was followed by a lively discussion. Jakub as well as our team members shared their experiences in conducting interviews in various contexts and discussed the difficulties they had encountered. However, the main focus of the discussion was the issue of what distinguishes oral history from other methods of conducting interviews. As Jakub stressed, interviews are used as a tool in various disciplines, but not every conducted interview can be classified as an oral history one. Among the main characteristics of this interdisciplinary method and practice is its aim to produce historical sources. The emphasis of oral history interviews is not (or not only) on the content but mainly on the narrator and dialogue they create.
For our team this presentation and discussion was an important basis for future reflections regarding the methodology of the Spectral Recycling project. We are very thankful to Jakub for accepting our invitation and joining our seminar. We also congratulate him on an award-winning book “Niedopowiedziane biografie. Polskie dzieci urodzone z powodu wojny” [Untold Biographies. Polish Children Born of War], where he shows how the oral history method can be of great importance.