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When Women Interview Women - And Then Publish It: Reflections on Oral History, Women's History, and Public History Julie Cruikshank. Life Lived LiL· a Story: Life Stories of Three Yukon Native Elders. In collaboration with Angela Sidney, Kitty Smith, and Annie Ned. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990. xvi + 404 pp; ill. ISBN 0-8032-1447-2 (pb); $50.00 (cl); $14.95 (pb). Jane Holden Kelley. Yoqui Women: Contemporary Life Histories. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1978; 1991. vii + 265 pp. ISBN 0-80327774 -1 (pb); $25.00 (cl); $9.95 (pb). Mary Logan Rothschild and Pamela Claire Hronek. Doing What the Day Brought: An Oral History of Arizona Women. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1992. xi +174 pp. ISBN 0-8165-1032-6 (cl); 0-8165-1276-0 (pb); $40.00 (cl); $16.95 (pb). Linda Shopes Just as an oral history interview can be understood as a collaborative process between narrator and interviewer, so too a book review represents a collaboration of sorts between text and reviewer. Each enterprise is defined by a relationship: the interviewer/reviewer questions the narrator /text, which in turn offers up certain insights. Each approaches the other from a particular point of view; their interaction involves the working out of a common ground of understanding. It therefore seems appropriate for me to note at the outset the particular perspectives I have brought to bear upon the books under review. I shall examine them in turn as oral histories, as works of feminist scholarship, and as examples of public history. While each of these fields has its own intellectual tradition and critical literature, they intersed at certain points, most notably in the recognition—shared by at least some oral historians, feminist scholars, and public history practitioners —that scholarly inquiry is a profoundly social ad and that the context in which knowledge is generated and used matters. For the books under review, all of which are based on extensive interviews with living subjeds, this large concern leads to a more focused set of questions about the implications of studying others: How is the meaning of another's life understood and represented? How are sodal differences attended to? How can intellectual mquiry be democratized? I, like an interviewer, shall approach each book with these questions in mind, seeing what each has to offer, trying to make something of that, and addressing differences in understanding. © 1994 Journal of Women-s History, Vol β No. ι (Spring) 1994 Book Reviews: Linda Shopes 99 Operating within the life history tradition of anthropology, Julie Cruikshank has presented in Life Lived Like a Story the biographical narratives of Angela Sidney, Kitty Smith, and Annie Ned, elderly Native American women of Athapaskan and Tlingit ancestry living in the southern Yukon Territory. Jane Holden Kelley, similarly drawing upon the life history method of anthropology, has construded Yaqui Women around the narratives of four elderly Native American subjects living in northern Mexico and southern Arizona: Dominga Tava, Chepa Moreno, Dominga Ramirez, and Antonia Valenzuela. While Doing What the Day Brought is also based on life course interviews with women, its shape is very different from that of the other two books. In this historical account of women's experiences in Arizona from the late nineteenth century to the present, approximately thirty life stories are "broken up" to "fit into" Mary Logan Rothschild's and Pamela Claire Hronek's chronological narrative. With the possible exception of some of the Arizona women in Doing What the Day Brought, the subjects of each of these books differ profoundly from their author-interviewers: they are of different classes, cultures, and ethnic and racial groups. They also think about their lives in different terms and use language in different ways. Reflecting on the implications of such differences for anthropology, Vincent Crapanzano has argued in an essay reviewing several published life histories that "when we analyze a life history, we are analyzing a text, not social reality, and this text is itself the product of a complex collaboration."1 In other words, "We maybe discussing the dynamics of narration rather than the dynamics of society."2 Of the four authors under review here, Cruikshank demonstrates the most sophisticated understanding of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2036
Print ISSN
1042-7961
Pages
pp. 98-108
Launched on MUSE
2010-03-25
Open Access
No
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