Decolonising Oral History: A Conversation

Hilary Francis*, Inge Boudewijn, Antonia Carcelén-Estrada, Juana Francis Bone, Katy Jenkins, Sofia Zaragocin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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In late 2019, a team of researchers and activists from Ecuador and the UK began a new oral history project, accompanying Afro-Ecuadorian women living in the province of Esmeraldas, as they interrogated and articulated their history and heritage. The impact of coronavirus, which has hit Ecuador particularly hard, delayed the workshops and oral history interviews we had planned, but also created the space for an extended exploration of the ethics of the project. Over email and video calls, the research team debated how to ensure that our work was truly led by its Afro-Ecuadorian participants. How would we secure recognition for their creative and intellectual work and avoid appropriation of their ideas? And how would we facilitate a collective, community-based methodology when most eurocentric oral history is so rooted in individualist approaches? The result of this process is a collectively authored document, which stands as our ethical agreement and baseline, and a record of our joint commitment to decolonise the research process. This wide-ranging conversation between community activists and scholars explores the complex, painstaking negotiations required to create a truly decolonial and feminist practice in transnational oral history work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-281
Number of pages17
Issue number370
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


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