Why oral histories are important even with these limitations and how would you address these issues when you do your final research project. A personal interview with an older Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) woman
Oral history as the term goes is a study of historical information about persons, families, important events, or everyday life. It’s also about the collection of people’s accounts about their own occurrences.
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Oral history is not folklore, rumor or gossip and oral historians tend to authenticate their answers by scrutinizing them and place them in a precise chronological framework Oral historians are also concerned about storage of their findings for later usage by scholars as they are aware that the day by day recollections of the community, not just the wealthy and prominent persons, but also the poor and insignificant have historical significance. If they do not accumulate and bank those recollections or accounts, then one day they will vanish perpetually.
Oral history struggled to achieve information from different outlooks and most of these cannot be found in written sources.
Importance of oral history
Oral history is important because it provides depth, texture, flavor, nuance and color to mission history and analysis. As social history, it fills in gaps, gives a voice to the hidden people, embellishes, substantiates and corrects the official record (Isabella Thorburn October 2001).
Oral history also provides an older generation with a way of connecting to the young, for instance, third generation believers (students in a seminary) interviewed first generation believers in rural Latin America and wrote up the stories, then went back to the churches to re-tell the stories. This created a mutual appreciation and understanding and ensured that the early roots of the church were neither ignored nor despised.
Oral history can bring to light hidden features of a story, assist with issues that have been forgotten or had been dealt with by giving a voice to those who remember and have never been listened to. It can supplement diaries thereby encouraging and ensuring a collective sense of family. Oral history which has the virtue of being efficient, immediate and eyewitness allows for divergent points of view, for the perspective of the voiceless (illiterate) and recovering forgotten knowledge. Most people are illiterate and have no voice in the stories historians tell.
Asian/Pacific Islander American women are omitted in the historical writings in spite of their lived realities. History focuses mostly on men’s immigration, labor and politics and thus one learns very little about Asian/Pacific Islander American women because they are rendered invisible. Asian women have been historically portrayed as submissive and exotic and so women’s studies has sought to transform historical knowledge and practice by centering women’s view points and experiences. The fields have questioned traditional interpretations and methodologies, promoted alternative approaches such as oral history, identified additional and often undervalued sources including personal journals and newspapers.
The struggle to make Asian/Pacific Islander American women visible and to give them voice and also to acknowledge their role in community and nation building are as a result of the establishment of Asian /Pacific American Studies in on United States campuses.
Many scholars have commented on the degree to which women of color are marginalized in history and other fields. In Asian American studies, race is the main category master tale that remains male centered hence the historical significance of women is made invisible when their lives, interests and activities are considered to be the same as those of men and given the prevalence of scholars in the field with Asian American interest yet the examination of their perspectives, voices and history of native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander American women is rare.
Asian American women face various barriers such as mental health issues, substance abuse, gambling, HIV/AIDS, gender issues and youth employment and domestic violence and this makes it difficult for them to move around freely. An Asian American woman’s college life is not one of the best experiences because there are many complex reasons why young Asian American women have one of the highest suicide rates.
First, Asian American college students in their twenties often deal with major academic pressures especially after getting accepted into college, they are expected to excel academically so that they can ultimately get a professional job that guarantees money and stability. Most of the women are faced with depression which makes it even harder for them to cope with their studies. Most of them are faced with cultural problems.
Like larger movements, the Asian American women started their movements with small informal groups engaged in personal support and political study and evolved into larger, formal organizations that addressed the status and concerns of Asian American women throughout the nation. The development benefited the movement in important ways; by actuating the potential of women activities, widening their contribution in the movement, politicizing formerly inactive women and it pushed them to participate in the common struggle for equality and empowerment.