Computational technologies have revolutionized the archival sciences field, prompting new approaches to process the extensive data in these collections. Automatic speech recognition and natural language processing create unique possibilities for analysis of oral history (OH) interviews, where otherwise the transcription and analysis of the full recording would be too time consuming. However, many oral historians note the loss of aural information when converting the speech into text, pointing out the relevance of subjective cues for a full understanding of the interviewee narrative. In this article, we explore various computational technologies for social signal processing and their potential application space in OH archives, as well as neighboring domains where qualitative studies is a frequently used method. We also highlight the latest developments in key technologies for multimedia archiving practices such as natural language processing and automatic speech recognition. We discuss the analysis of both visual (body language and facial expressions), and non-visual cues (paralinguistics, breathing, and heart rate), stating the specific challenges introduced by the characteristics of OH collections. We argue that applying social signal processing to OH archives will have a wider influence than solely OH practices, bringing benefits for various fields from humanities to computer sciences, as well as to archival sciences. Looking at human emotions and somatic reactions on extensive interview collections would give scholars from multiple fields the opportunity to focus on feelings, mood, culture, and subjective experiences expressed in these interviews on a larger scale.
This article describes the computational and data-related challenges of the “Connected Histories of the BBC” project, an interdisciplinary project aiming to bring into the public realm some of the hidden treasures of the BBC's own Oral History Archive through the creation of an openly accessible, fully searchable and interconnected digital catalogue of this archive. This project stands as an interesting case study on the tensions between “computational” and “archival”, by critically designing and employing computational approaches for an historical, complex Oral History collection of scattered analogue records of various forms with an archival pre-history. From data acquisition, modeling, structuring and enhancement, metadata, data analysis procedures, to web design and legal issues, this paper discusses the various computational challenges, processes and decisions made during this project, while showcasing the principles of (re)usability, accessibility, and collaboration throughout its course.
What are the possibilities and limits of engaging with colonialism in ethnological museums? This book addresses this question from within the Africa department of the Ethnological Museum in Berlin. It captures the Museum at a moment of substantial transformation, as it prepared the move of its exhibition to the Humboldt Forum, a newly built and contested cultural centre on Berlin’s Museum Island. The book discusses almost a decade of debate in which German colonialism was negotiated, and further recognised, through conflicts over colonial museum collections. Based on two years of ethnographic fieldwork examining the Museum’s various work practices, this book highlights the Museum’s embeddedness in colonial logics and shows how these unfold in the Museum’s everyday activity. It addresses the diverse areas of expertise in the Ethnological Museum – the preservation, storage, curation, and research of collections – and also draws on archival research and oral history interviews with current and former employees. Working through Colonial Collections unravels the ongoing and laborious processes of reckoning with colonialism in the Ethnological Museum’s present – processes from which other ethnological museums, as well as Western museums more generally, can learn.
The boggart was a much-feared, little-studied supernatural being from the north of England. Against the odds, it survives today, whether in place-names or in works of fantasy literature – not least Harry Potter. Centring on this mercurial and mysterious figure, The Boggart pioneers two methods for collecting folklore: first, the use of hundreds of thousands of words on the boggart from digitised ephemera; second, about 1,100 contemporary boggart memories that derive from social media surveys and personal interviews relating to the interwar and postwar years. Through a radical combination of this new information and an interdisciplinary approach – involving dialectology, folklore, Victorian history, supernatural history, oral history, place-name studies, sociology and more – it is possible to reconstruct boggart beliefs, experiences and tales. The boggart was not, as we have been led to believe, a ‘goblin’. Rather, this was a much more general term encompassing all solitary, and often ambivalent, supernatural beings, from killer mermaids to headless phantoms to shape-changing ghouls. In the same period that boggart beliefs were dying, folklorists continuously misrepresented the boggart and how the modern fantasy version was born of these misunderstandings. As well as offering a fresh reading of a deep seam of folklore, this book showcases some of the ways in which harnessing recent advances in digitization can offer rich and compelling rewards.
This article is part of a larger research project that traces the history of male same-sex relations in China during the Mao era, a topic on which virtually no scholarship is currently available. The Chinese government named the Cultural Revolution (1966–76) “ten years of turmoil” in its aftermath. Stories circulate widely about men who were labeled as sodomites, humiliated and tortured in public, and sentenced to hard labor; some reportedly were beaten to death or committed suicide during this period. Using oral history and archival cases collected by the author, this article complicates this narrative about the Cultural Revolution by documenting different experiences of sexual awakening, ingenuity, and resilience of those men as well as their fear, misfortune, and tribulations. Despite all the risks of being arrested, interrogated, and disciplined by the authorities, clandestine sex between men persisted in both private and public spaces throughout this tumultuous period.
The oral history interview with Mr. Elmer Beard, a longtime political activist, politician, and educator, is part of a series of interviews for a study on Black church burnings, arsons, and vandalism from 2008 to 2016. Mr. Beard gives historical context to recent Black church arson with a focus on the mysterious burning of Roanoke Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas, on 22 December 1963. On 9 March 2018, the interview took place in Hot Springs at the current church site. The dialogue starts with biographical questions and evolves into details about Mr. Beard’s experience growing up in a racially segregated society, particularly in south-central Arkansas.
Oral History as a Selection of Sources: Discussion Around „O tym nie wolno mówić…” Zagłada Żydów w opowieściach wspomnieniowych ze zbiorów Dionizjusza Czubali [“We Are Not Allowed to Speak About It...” The Extermination of Jews in Memoirs from the Collection of Dionizjusz Czubala]This article reviews the book „O tym nie wolno mówić…” Zagłada Żydów w opowieściach wspomnieniowych ze zbiorów Dionizjusza Czubali [“We Are Not Allowed to Speak About It...” The Extermination of Jews in Memoirs from the Collection of Dionizjusz Czubala], selected and edited by Piotr Grochowski, Wydawnictwo Naukowe UMK, Toruń 2019, 236 pp. Historia mówiona jako wybór źródeł Wokół „O tym nie wolno mówić…” Zagłada Żydów w opowieściach wspomnieniowych ze zbiorów Dionizjusza CzubaliRecenzja książki „O tym nie wolno mówić....” Zagłada Żydów w opowieściach wspomnieniowych ze zbiorów Dionizjusza Czubali, wybór i opracowanie Piotr Grochowski, Wydawnictwo Naukowe UMK, Toruń 2019, s. 236.