Oral history is about telling stories and listening to stories and documenting and disseminating these stories. Such stories, we have come to recognize, are not just individual histories, or family histories, but belong to the rich and intricate fabric of national history. In many countries, this recognition that people’s’ histories are central to the life of the nation has led to major oral history projects being undertaken by government institutions and universities.
People’s Histories and the Making of Malaysia
Pusat Sejarah Rakyat is initiating the Making of Malaysia People’s Histories project because no one else is doing it not the National Archive, none of our universities. We believe that many people’s stories have been neglected and silenced in the telling of the national story, and that the recording and dissemination of such stories will help enrich the national conversation.
It is a big and ambitious project for a startup with no funding. Our main resource will have to come from civil society. Beginning with you, we will have to get more and more people involved.
There are currently two planks to the project.
- We will train volunteers (drawn largely from students and NGO organizations) to conduct and record oral history interviews through workshops. The training is envisaged as a series of two workshops book ending a three-month period during which the participants conduct at least 3 interviews. Each participant will have a “buddy” from PSR to refer to during the 3month period.
- We will develop a digital archive in which these recordings will be stored, catalogued etc. We hope to develop the archive to store materials generated elsewhere as well, so that it becomes an oral history resource base with audio, visual and written materials that will be made available to the public.
The collective memory of the nation has to be enriched by the telling of people’s histories. Collecting these histories, and creating a People’s History archive in which they can be stored, for the public and the future generations of this country, is what this project hopes to achieve.