|Encounters and Passings. Czech Oral History in Global Perspective.|
|Czech oral history (likewise the oral history applied in others so called post communist countries) did not experience that building period in 1960s and 1970s, partly at the beginning in 1980s, where in the world is spoken about social movement more than a method. With knowledge of the thing I can say that this development was in its beginning probably necessary and well- founded. Understandable (in its beginning) was also some political activism.
In 1970s and 1980s in Czech Republic (similarly in other countries of so called socialist block) was OH absolutely unknown. History and historians did not know about it. Isolate attempts to invite witnesses for scientific project ended without accomplishment (ideological task, guiltlessness of method, imperfect technique, etc.). Hypothetically, if the OH had been discovered earlier for Czech historians, it could have acted positive and surely combative activist role (as A. Freund. P. Thomson and many others speak about it) like in other authoritative regimes. It could have aimed at enquiry of proscribe groups: dissent or prisoners of conscience. To cognate research or any other allusion about just mentioned groups of fellow – citizen was until 1989 totally avoided by communist historiography.
OH was for the first time used in the mid 1990s but we can speak about some kind of progress for past six years, as Sean Field speaks about it, when it has transformed from disregard and criticized to possibly respect. In last three years we can even speak about boom of OH, not perhaps that it would become mainstream, like in South Africa (S. Field).
Increased interest in OH brings also problems related mainly with own conception and identify with its principles. As a historian I see that in professional access which is, in my opinion craft mastered method and knowledge of context as a necessity of high – quality history interpretation.
In the same way as Sean Filed I am asking a question if the trend of last years is only positive. I am trying to find answers for questions of what evoked that turn. I am questing after risks associated with this new trend.
I am coming out from position of academic, historian of contemporary history who stated in genesis of Czech oral history association that arch over different currents (academicals, amateurish), branches and disciplines of OH, similar to the world. In my paper I will examine problems of journalistic and publicist attitude work off as oral history, I will not leave out ideological attitudes that could be just activist for the first time (according to development in world in 1960s and 1970s). I will try questioning access of Czech historiography focused only on the visible, earlier proscribe groups of inhabitants. There is nothing bad about it. According to what we have just said, we can greet these attempts if we do not feel behind these projects the backing of new neo – liberal ideology and ideology of free market. It is in this context, it seems to me there is a difficult task for Czech oral history. Defend the ideological and the imposition of flat rate and maybe even “activist” move our attention to analysis of groups, which were and they are again disregarded in our historiography – “the common people”. Without reintegration of these groups back into history will be interpretation of the recent past still incomplete, black and basically a very imprecise. Neither any non-conformist views contrary to the current neo - liberal trend should not deter us from these kinds of researches.
Twenty-one years is enough to make a man grow up as well is sufficient time for young democracy. Sufficient time to start thinking about its past without prejudice and in historical context through the social scientists, so also the historians. For Czech oral history it is certainly a big challenge.|