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Michigan and Cleveland

Oral history basically involves the passing on of information by the word of mouth. This is to the effect that written materials are not quoted or referred to, as the chief source of information. The corollary to this is that the information being disseminated is purely from the memory. The human memory has been one of the most celebrated facets in civilization. By it, the investigation of criminal cases, the rendering of fair judicial verdict, historical and archaeological reconstructions have been brought into consummation.

However, the human specie is always underpinned by limitations. Though having the highest intelligence quotient among other species, the memory faculty is limited, to an extent that only the most useful pieces of information are stored. Similarly, information that becomes inculcated into the memory repository is that which has been coupled with personal experiences, and these experiences having some degree of importance. Similarly, concepts repeated over and over end up being deeply ingrained into the memory also.

The reverse is also true that information that enter human memory yet do not fall under any of the above category cannot be retrieved from the memory accurately. It is because of this notion that scholars such as historian David Theland have been seen and heard challenging the credibility of information retrieved from the memory bank. The dissemination of this argument is therefore deliberated upon by looking at the oral presentations to the 1973 Flint Sit-Down Strike. Using the oral histories of the Flint Sit-Down Strike of 1937 to teach about the strike, how memory is constructed and toward what circumstances

According to oral sources that were later compiled into a written source, much about the 1937 Flint Sit-Down Strike can still be gathered. Some of these data have been penned down by Roger Keeran and Eric Foner. Both data drawn out by Keeran and Foner, though elicited from oral sources from different persons who used to work with Flint, an automobile company in Michigan, show a great deal of agreement. In both accounts, the strike had been anteceded by the formation of the UAW in 1935, a feat that enabled General Motors (GM) to patronize the organization of the Flint (Foner, 1999) and (Keeran, 1980).

To this effect, all the politics of Flint were scrutinized, with any form of dissidence being meted out by death threats- a case in which Wyndham Mortimer, was a perfect victim. Foner (Op ct) maintains that with the subsequently heightened dense spy network, UAW having established that GM only had two factories for producing the dies with which the components of cars were stamped; it organized strikes in GM’s two centers- Michigan and Cleveland. The memory herein is construed as having been hooked on the antecedent factors that led to the strike and the parties involved, together with the centers that were hit by the strike.

The fact that the accounts couple up well to this extent underscores the notion that some degree of credence can be given the oral accounts. The possibility of oral histories being taken literally versus the usefulness of oral history The possibility of oral histories being taken literally is normally underpinned by important principles. An example of the principle is multiple attestations. To this end, if a concept is seen to be confirmed by a myriad of other sources with a deep sense of consistency, then oral accounts may be taken at face value.

The rationale behind this principle is that the memory of the majority is less susceptible to lapses. Similarly, it is true that a greater number is less vulnerable to having its memory clouded by conflicts of interest. It is at this point that oral history becomes credible. Whether oral histories overstate individual agency and obscure the workings of larger political and social structures There is no way oral history can obscure the operations of a larger political structure. This is because the principles of multiple attestation wards off the dangers of conflicts of interests.

For instance, it is one thing to gather information from an individual who’s standing with the GM, UAW or Flint may be in doubt, but it is also another thing to accrue information from the entire rank and file of any of these organizations. The collective gathering of oral sources of information therefore diffuses the dangers that would come with the whims of a single individual. How memory mediates between past and present Memory has the ability mediate between the past and the present on many fronts. To a larger extent, an individual meets the world in a tabular rasa form.

It is through subsequent interactions with the environment that concepts are transferred to the memory section. This is to say that it is memory that translates to an individual, the world around him. Similarly, it is through experience that concepts such as danger, pleasure, anomaly or warning can be understood. For instance, the memory of the pain of a smashed finger by the door hinge, may keep off a child from playing with the door. Biases that come through in oral histories Historian David Theland’s recriminations against oral history are pegged on the fact that it is highly susceptible to lopsidedness.

This means that oral history runs the highest vulnerability to the whims of the person disseminating the information. For instance, on a history of an ethno-linguistic group, one may twist some facts so as to portray this group in a positive way. This is normally the case if the disseminator has something at stake. In the same wavelength, oral history may not just be vulnerable to biases and whims, but to unintentional memory lapses and inaccuracies. The possibility of detecting ideological shifts between the time of the event and when the interview takes place

One of the factors that undercut the cause of oral history, is that ideological shift happens very gradually. This makes it very hard for the person disseminating the information to realize that he / or she is giving information from a point of view that would differ with the way she/ or he would have done during the primordial times. An employee of the GM, AUW, or Flint, having been given his retirement package, may have mellowed with life’s circumstances, and thereby softening antithetical stance against GM, AUW, or Flint when disseminating information from memory.

Conclusion and Ways in which these strike participants, did not fully understand what happened though being present It is also possible that when disseminating information orally, that the striking participants may have been acting in the dark is a fact that may be addressed on two counts. It would be hard to recall the entire goings on among GM, AUW and Flint. This is because the mind gets rid of information that is not used regularly from the memory. To this extent, minute but seemingly important details may escape the mind of the disseminator of the data.

Secondly, an individual being human will not have the proclivity to point out his own flaws. That the employees who took part in the strike were having a dearth in the powerplays among the three affiliates is also possible. For instance, the concept of corporate confidentiality may have left the Flint striking party in the dark. Works Cited Foner, Eric. The Story of American Freedom. New York: Norton and Company, 1999 Keeran, Roger. The Communist Party and the Auto Workers Unions. Bloomington: University of Indiana, 1980.

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