'Testimonies in Historiography and Oral History'

in The Palgrave Handbook of Testimony and Culture, ed. Sara Jones, Roger Woods, Basingstoke (Palgrave Macmillan), 2023, pp. 65-90 (co-written with Achim Saupe).

This chapter gives an overview of the ways in which testimony has been used by historians, and the ways in which it has influenced the development of new historiographical methods. Above all, the authors explore the different contextual frameworks within which testimonies have developed—legal, moral, and practical.

What makes a testimony ‘true’ or ‘trustworthy’ in the eyes of the observer? Do victims’ testimonies possess more ‘moral authenticity’ than those of perpetrators? Is the eyewitness by nature ‘the enemy of the historian’?

In particular, the rise of oral history during the latter half of the twentieth century has led to a new appreciation of the value—and potential challenges—involved in working with testimonies narrated by witnesses who were alive during the historical events which they are narrating.