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Accounts of a troubled past: Psychology, history, and texts of experience

Byford, J and Tileagă, C (2017). Accounts of a troubled past: Psychology, history, and texts of experience. Qualitative Psychology, 4(1) pp. 101–117.

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URL: http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/qua/
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link: https://doi.org/10.1037/qup0000047
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Abstract

The article considers the contribution that discursive psychology can make to the study of accounts of a troubled past, using, as relevant examples, testimonies of Holocaust survivors and confessions of collaboration with the secret police in communist Eastern Europe. Survivor testimonies and confessions of former informants are analyzed as instances of public remembering which straddle historical and psychological enquiries: they are, at the same time, stories of individual fates, replete with references to psychological states, motives and cognitions, and discourses of history, part of a socially and institutionally mediated collective struggle with a painful, unsettling, or traumatic past. Also, the examples point to two different ways in which archives are relevant to the study of human experience. In the case of Holocaust survivor testimony, personal recollections are usually documented in order to be systematically archived and made part of the official record of the past, while in the case of collaboration with the security services, it is the opening of the ‘official’ archives, and the fallout from this development, that made the confessions and public apologies necessary. The article argues that discursive psychology’s emphasis on remembering as a dynamic, performative and rhetorical practice, situated in a specific social and historical context offers a particularly productive way of exploring the interplay between personal experience and the institutional production of historical knowledge, one that helps to address some of the challenges encountered by psychologists and historians interested in researching accounts of troubled past.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2016 APA
ISSN: 2326-3598
Keywords: discursive psychology; archive; testimony; experience; confession
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Psychology
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance (CCIG)
Item ID: 44990
Depositing User: Jovan Byford
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2015 09:20
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2017 07:35
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/44990
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