The Launch of The Newcastle Oral History Unit Podcast

As Graham Smith wrote last week, we have been devising ways to continue contributing to oral history theory and practise during the Covid-19 lockdown period. One long-term aim that we’ve been able to realise is a new oral history podcast. In this Lug post, Andy Clark talks about the process behind making the podcast and what listeners can expect to hear over the coming weeks and months.

You can listen to the podcast on the following hosting platforms: Spotify; Radio Public; Podbean; Pocket Casts. The RSS Feed for the pod is https://feed.podbean.com/nohuc/feed.xml

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Oral history and the current crisis

In this statement on behalf of the Oral History Collective, Graham Smith, Professor of Oral History at Newcastle outlines some of the challenges and possible responses that oral historians face during the COVID-19 crisis. He argues that oral historians need to go beyond the technical challenges of remote working and think about the political crisis arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. In doing so, he warns against oral historians supporting stereotypical and dangerous attitudes to older people, and outlines the Collective’s local and international strategy.

Graham would like to thank Oral History Unit colleagues for their early input and Collective members who commented on the draft. Graham notes: ‘Any errors or mistakes are his alone’.

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Poverty, Covid-19 and Hope

The Oral History Collective is part of a growing movement of researchers and civil society groups whose work shines a light on the misery inflicted by the UK Government’s welfare ‘reforms’ since 2010. Our Foodbank Histories research comes out of a belief that poverty has a past, and that the current rise of foodbanks needs to be understood in its historical context. This context also sheds light on the Government’s current policy approach to the Covid-19 pandemic, which is in alignment with their approach to social policy over the past decade. Indeed, the horror expressed by many over the Government’s initial (now rejected) ‘take it on the chin’ approach to Coronavirus is a familiar feeling for many on the front line of dealing with the fall-out of a wide range of social policies. In this blog post, Alison Atkinson-Phillips argues that the utilitarian beliefs of the 19th Century continue to have an impact today, and argues for a bit of hope.

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Oral History in crisis? Casualisation, deskilling and precarity in our field

In this post, Andy Clark reflects on discussions originating from the 2019 Oral History Society Conference held in Swansea regarding the current state of oral history. In particular, he reflects on the casualisation* and precarity faced by practitioners of the methodology. How can we develop an approach that is inclusive, democratising, whilst also promoting the skill-set of trained and experienced oral historians? Please feel free to join the discussion by posting in the comments section below.

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Deindustrialisation, heritage and memory: Reflections on 2018-2019 network

Deindustrialisation, and the understanding of how it continues to reverberate through working-class communities, is a relatively new but growing interdisciplinary field. Alongside academic interest, community activist groups, heritage organisations, trade unions and artists are engaged in examining the impact of structural economic change. The Deindustrialisation, Heritage and Memory Network came together through three workshops – held in Glasgow, Newcastle and Canterbury – which brought together research from across academia and the heritage sector, offering an important space where significant and lasting connections have been made. In this post, network contributors Paul Barnsley and Emma Copestake reflect on their experiences of the workshops, and consider future directions in the field.

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From reflective to prospective practice: an oral history of the Lockerbie disaster, 1988

Last year, Dr Andy Clark was awarded a British Academy / Leverhulme Trust Small Grant to conduct a scoping project on the Lockerbie disaster, 1988. Working with Dr Colin Atkinson, Lecturer in Criminology at UWS, they will conduct interviews with a number of witnesses involved in the aftermath of the disaster. In this Lug post, Andy reflects on how to prepare for such a project. There is an extensive literature on reflections of oral historians once projects have been completed, but in this piece, Andy discusses his thoughts and approaches before beginning the interview process. Continue reading

Foodbank Histories: Placement Reflection by Jack Hepworth

Foodbank Histories is a collaborative project between Newcastle West End Foodbank, Northern Cultural Projects, and Newcastle University Oral History Unit & Collective. The project began in 2018, recording approximately 30 short oral history interviews with foodbank clients, volunteers, and supporters. Over the past five weeks, PhD candidate Jack Hepworth has completed a short-term placement on Foodbank Histories, funded by the Newcastle University Social Justice Fund. Here he reflects on his experience. 

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