2019 - 2020

  Oral History: Living Under Oppression in Developing Countrise  
Yali Hashash 1600-2000 Sem  1
1600-2000 Sem  2
Prof. leibner gerardo
University credit hours:  4.0

Course description

The Oral History Laboratory: Life-stories under oppression.


Thursday, 16:00-20:00, every second week

Credit: 4 academic points

Evaluation: Final essay reflecting research advance


From the second half of the 1940s until the 1980s many “developing countries” led projects of economic modernization, social integration and nation-building. Among those countries were new independent states, products of the de-colonization processes in Asia and Africa, and established states from the point of view of their formal independence, mainly in Latin America. The modernization and nation-building processes included efforts of social and cultural engineering, urbanization and internal colonization, that deeply affected the population's ways of life. Those efforts encouraged individuals to identify with the nation, promising civil equality and future welfare in the developing state, as a liberal-capitalistic, socialist, corporative, democratic or authoritarian state.

 The existing research corpus describes and analyzes the ideologies and practices of the ruling elites in Israel and other developing countries. In our laboratory we will focus on the people on which these policies were practiced. In particular, we will focus on the gaps and tensions between the promises of full civil rights and equality, realized only partially, and the toll these processes of nation building took on populations that were marginalized or subordinated. Those processes often included immigration, displacement and uprooting from previous life frameworks, sometimes dispossession, proletarianization, and loss of cultural heritage. The researches will focus on the way those that lived under oppression describe their own lives.

Living under oppression entail different degrees of silencing, from deprivation of knowledge to self-negation as a way for social integration. Institutional archives rarely kept records of non elite members. Oral history is therefore a crucial instrument for any research of the oppressed in the last generations. Oral history allows us to obtain the perspectives of women and men who were poor, manual workers or belonged to social, ethnic and national groups that were pushed to the social margins.

Our research project is oriented towards three areas. First, we want to describe the subordinated life through the voices that that were silenced on the nation building the narratives of the developing countries. Second, we re-examine existing theoretical analyses of lives under oppression: we offer to read people's life stories not only against historical processes but also through their own framing and attribution of meaning. Men and women negotiated and created their own strategies to cope, their own way to see and understand their life and society, and defined their own identities and goals, and those often contradict theoretical models. Therefore, there is a need to constantly revise our own pre-conceptions and hypotheses of what “oppression” and “living under oppression” mean.

Finally, we aim to develop a history of seemingly “timeless” phenomena: a variety of daily social practices that imply oppression: violence against women, rape, abuse of authority, contempt and humiliation. Those phenomena relate not only to oppression by hegemonic institutions, but also imply the complex issue of oppression within the oppressed.

 The laboratory will include research students at the Phd and M.A levels that are interested in the contemporary history of Israel or countries labeled as “developing countries” and that are using or intend to use interviews as a research method.

We expect to have students from all the departments of the School of History and from other departments and programs such as Culture Research, Women and Gender Studies, The Department of Sociology and Anthropology and others. The Laboratory will meet every second week during the two semesters. In the first monthly meeting we will learn Oral History methods, concepts of contemporary social and cultural history and we will elaborate research directions. The second meeting will focus on the analysis of interviews conducted by the members of the group.

Admission to the laboratory and registration is contingent upon a personal interview.

To apply  to the Oral History Laboratory please send a one page description of your research project to Dr. Gerardo Leibner:  leibner@post.tau.ac.il  and Dr. Yali Hashash: yalihashash@gmail.com


The Oral History Laboratory will consider outstanding students' essays for publication.

Students may apply to the laboratory's research grants.

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