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ERIC Number: ED307022
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1989-Mar-27
Pages: 31
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Constructing the Historical Ethnography of Childhood through Oral History.
Barman, Jean
The intersection of the ethnographer's method of participant observation and the historian's central concern with chronology provides a potentially useful approach for construction of a historical ethnography of childhood through oral history. The first stage of ethnographic activity, fieldwork centered in participant observation, is not unlike the process which occurs each time the oral historian knocks on the door of a potential interviewee. The face-to-face encounter inevitably combines participation with observation, and subjectivity with objectivity. The subjective-objective dialectic inherent in both ethnography and oral history makes the second phase of research, the representation of texts obtained in the field, a matter of critical importance. This second stage embodies particular complexities, for each participant observer takes from the field not only data, but also a sense of responsibility as to its best representation, or textualization. The oral historian, however, must also engage in an ongoing dialectic between past and present. Once recollections are interpreted as to what they have to tell about the present, attention must be given to interpretation of the past, as far as possible in its own terms. At this point, insights derived from the concept of participant observation must be broadened if the historical ethnography of childhood is to be constructed. (RH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Researchers
Language: English
Sponsor: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Ottawa (Ontario).
Authoring Institution: British Columbia Univ., Vancouver. Dept. of Social and Educational Studies.