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Leaf Pattern Design

What is 'oral history'?

As one of the oldest types of historical method that predates the written word, oral history is one type of study and method of “gathering, preserving and interpreting the voices and memories of people, communities, and participants in past events” (more from the Oral History Association in the U.S.). More importantly, oral history is a traditional practice among Sikhs to document our experiences, such as in janamsakhis, parables, and proverbs.

What makes oral history interviews different from other structured interviews are two things. One, the narrator (you!) have power to control the interview. This is why the team encourages everyone to do a pre-interview before doing a formal interview. Second, the team creates social history by leaning into the fact that the stories we remember are partial and that emotions guide what we remember.

As a community-based project, the team uses interviews to go beyond "doing research." We hope to gather broad information to inform multiple historical questions that may be important to LGBTQIA+ Sikhs. For us, part of doing this work means that we seek out people who may leave behind little or no material record for future generations and ask them questions that they may have never before been asked about a topic or event.

To learn more about the research part of the Archive, dr. kehal reviews the ethics and goals guiding the Archive's creation in this presentation.

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