Listening in, listening out: intersubjectivity and the impact of insider and outsider status in oral history interviews

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When undertaking oral history research with any group defining itself as a community the researcher’s relationship to this ‘community’ must be considered. Intersubjectivity’s central role in the oral history interview is widely acknowledged. However, there is little work investigating how being an ‘insider’ or ‘outsider’ amongst those whom we interview impacts on the interview encounter. This paper will draw on my experience of conducting two very different sets of interviews in order to assess this impact. Firstly I examine the ramifications, positive and negative, of being an out lesbian interviewing other lesbian women. I then compare this with being an ‘outsider interviewer’, amongst survivors of the Bethnal Green tube disaster, where interviewees were bonded together in a community of trauma.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-44
JournalOral History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • oral history
  • Lesbian
  • intersubjectivity
  • Community
  • Insider
  • Outsider
  • queer history

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