The Soviet Past in the Post-Socialist Present : Methodology and Ethics in Russian, Baltic and Central European Oral History and Memory Studies book cover
1st Edition

The Soviet Past in the Post-Socialist Present
Methodology and Ethics in Russian, Baltic and Central European Oral History and Memory Studies

ISBN 9780367263836
Published March 22, 2019 by Routledge
258 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This collection examines practical and ethical issues inherent in the application of oral history and memory studies to research about the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe since the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Case studies highlight the importance of ethical good practice, including the reflexive interrogation of the interviewer and researcher, and aspects of gender and national identity.

Researchers use oral history to analyze present-day recollections of the Soviet past, thereby extending our understanding beyond archival records, official rhetoric and popular mythology. Oral history explores individual life stories, but this has sometimes resulted in rather incomplete, incoherent, inconsistent or illogical narratives. Oral history, therefore, presents the researcher with a number of methodological and ethical dilemmas, including the interpretation of "silence" in biographical accounts.

This collection links the discussion of oral history ethics with that of memory studies. Memories are shaped by factors that may be, simultaneously, both consecutive and disrupted. In written accounts and responses to interview questions, respondents sometimes display nostalgia for the Soviet past, or, conversely, may seek to de-mythologize the realities of Soviet rule. Case studies explore what to do when interview subjects and memoirists consciously, sub-consciously or unconsciously "forget" aspects of their own past, or themselves seek to take control of the research process.

Table of Contents

Introductions  Introduction: From Interview to Life Story: Methodology and Ethics in Oral History  Melanie Ilic  Introduction: Silence in Biographical Accounts and Life Stories: The Ethical Aspects of Interpretation  Dalia Leinarte  Part I: Russia  1. Interview with Anastasia Posadskaya: May 1995  Barbara Engel  2. Women’s Everyday Life in Soviet Russia: Collecting Stories, Dealing with Silences and Exploring Nostalgia  Yulia Gradskova  3. Interview as Conversation: Agency and Self-Construction in a Russian Rural Woman’s Story of Courtship and Marriage  Laura J. Olson  Part II: Baltic States  4. The Paradoxes of Family Life Trajectories in Soviet and Post-Soviet Life Strategies  Ingrida Gečienė  5. Research Ethics in Soviet Memory Studies  Sigita Kraniauskienė and Laima Žilinskienė  6. "Not Much Love Lost Between Me and My Husband": Love in Estonian Women’s Life Stories of the Soviet Period  Leena Kurvet-Käosaar  7. History, the Remembered Past and Master Narratives: The Latvian Case  Andrejs Plakans  8. Recycling Archival Sources and Oral History: The Nationalization of Private Housing in Soviet Latvia  Maija Runcis  9. Three (Un)Successful Cases of the Application of Oral History Methods  Aurimas Švedas  Part III: East Central Europe  10. Self-Sacrificing Motherhood: Reconciling Traumatic Life Experiences of Hungarian Collectivisation  Ildikó Asztalos-Morell  11. "We Had to Become Criminals to Survive Under Communism!": Testimonies of Petty Criminality and Everyday Morality in Late Socialist Central Europe  Kelly Hignett  12. Female Voices of Post-War Forced Displacement  Karolina Koziura and Olena Lytovka, with Melanie Ilic

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Melanie Ilic is Professor of Soviet History at the University of Gloucestershire, and Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for European and Eurasian Studies, The University of Birmingham, UK.
Dalia Leinarte is Professor of History and Director of the Gender Studies Centre at Vilnius University, Lithuania, and Fellow Commoner at Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge, UK.