THE SIGNIFICANCE OF ORAL HISTORY AND TESTIMONY IN RELATION TO THE STOLEN GENERATION.
Back in 1991, the Labour government of the day commissioned a national inquiry into the forced removal of mixed race and indigenous children from their parents. Because of the racist policies that ensured aborigines were ignored, there are few official records or statistics which include indigenous people. The ability to bring the past to life through the testimony of people who lived through these little recorded events, creates a new slice of the true history of Australia. Oral history is a method of historical investigation by recording life experiences and memories through first person narrative. Although interview is the most common way of collecting oral history, it also incorporates the use of focus groups, community interviews and diary recordings (Mikula, 2008). Oral testimony is a personal account given verbally, sworn as truth. Both oral history and testimony have great importance when all other methods of history, such as statistics and government reports, fail to report the full story. In reflection, the most significant tool that sticks out amongst the readings for this topic is language and the contrast in ways to describe the same piece of history. The words chosen by each author to describe people and events, whether emotional language is used to bias and even analysis of the accolades or criticisms that are given to people quoted throughout the different pieces are all skilfully used to shape the reader’s attitude and response to the issue. Referring to both articles from The Age (Munro, 2006 & Flanagan, 2006), the authors are both keen to expose the pro-liberal political journalist, Andrew Bolt, as an ignorant person, who seems to believe that the ‘stolen generation’ is somewhat of a myth and not relevant to society or politics today. These views are not held by the majority of the Australian population, so the response felt when reading about a debate...
References: Bird, C. (ed.), The Stolen Children: Their Stories, Sydney, Random House. pp 1-15, 19-32.
Flanagan, M. 2006. ‘Not just black and white’, The Age, 05 September.
Kennedy, R. 2004. ‘The affective work of Stolen Generations testimony: from the archives to the classroom’, Biography 27.1. pp 48-77
Mikula, M. 2008 ‘Oral History’ in Key Concepts in Cultural Studies, Palgrave, Macmillan. pp 142-143
Munro, I. 2006. ‘A decade on, stolen generation draws a crowd, but no winner’, The Age, 04 September.
Smallcombe, S. 1996. ‘Oral Histories of the Stolen Generation’, The UTS Review, 2:1. pp 38-42
Tucker, M. 1995. ‘They Found our Mother still Moaning and Groaning’ (Documents 2.7) in Katie Holmes and Marilyn Lake (eds.), Freedom Bound II, Allen and Unwin.
Wilson, R. 1998. ‘Preface’ in Carmel Bird (ed.), The Stolen Children: Their Stories, Sydney, Random House. pp. xii-xv
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