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Life story interviews and the "Truth of Memory": Some aspects of oral history from a historico-philosophical perspective

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The interaction between an interviewee and an interviewer in a narrative life story interview is a relevant topic in oral history as well as in empirical social sciences in general. This relationship seems to be central especially with regard to the validity of memories produced in interviews as it affects in various ways the narrative and memory alike. The interview situation has immediate influence onto what is being remembered at all, which memories are being narrated and which are not.Following such general considerations concerning the various problems of life story interviews this article sheds light upon some questions raised by philosophy of history, e.g. how the past becomes a “historic item”. The major question addressed is how the present circumstances and conditions shape the way the past is narrated and how this has to be considered when dealing with life story interviews.

  • Affiliations: 1: Institute of Conflict Research, Vienna, Austria

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