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Oral History, "Learning Disability" and Pedagogies of Self

Graham, HC (2009) Oral History, "Learning Disability" and Pedagogies of Self. Oral History, 37 (1). 85 - 94 (9). ISSN 0143-0955


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Oral history interviews are one form in a wider and changing formation of individualisation, personalisation and self-representation – a formation which is politically volatile. This article explores this volatility through one interview conducted as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded ‘History of Day Centres for People with Learning Disabilities’ project. In his interview Tom Brown mobilises the idea of ‘free will’ to account for changes in his life – an account which both contradicts and challenges the professional assessment procedures and eligibility criteria which are likely to have determined his life course. To help explore the complexities of his account, the article traces the multiple histories of the interview showing the specific meanings of Tom’s claim to ‘free will’. The article concludes by arguing that the oral history interview needs to avoid simply becoming a ‘pedagogy of self’ used to support the production of a model personhood defined by ‘independence’ and ‘choice’. Instead oral history practice needs to retain its critical edge by specifically understanding the models of personhood being articulated through oral histories as not simply reflecting the past and present but creating the future.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2009 Oral History Society. This is an author produced version of a paper subsequently published in Oral History. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communications (Leeds) > Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies (Leeds)
Depositing User: Symplectic Publications
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2011 13:17
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2013 17:35
Published Version: http://www.ohs.org.uk/journals/journal_indexes/37....
Status: Published
Publisher: Oral History Society
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/43332

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