Re-writing history
Circles of conversation - CCA 2019 graduate students proceedings

How to Cite

Agarwal, S. (2020). Re-writing history: Oral history as a feminist methodology. Stream: Interdisciplinary Journal of Communication, 12(1), 6–30.


Feminist historians (Kelly, 1984; Scott, 1998) have argued that documented History is inherently ‘masculine’ and marginalizes women’s life experiences. In order to bridge this gap in History, feminist oral historians in the 1970s began collecting women’s oral testimonies to highlight their subjective experiences (Patai and Gluck, 1990). Building on existing scholarship, this paper argues that oral history as a methodology is indispensable in a feminist re-writing of history. It analyzes oral histories conducted by Indian feminist historians with women survivors of India’s Partition. The first section uses a gendered historical lens to argue that feminist oral history is crucial to writing a women’s history. The second section outlines what constitutes as a feminist methodology to envision what women’s history should look like. The final section examines the difficulties of working with oral testimonies. The objective of this study is two-fold: examining non-hierarchical ways of researching through feminist oral history and drawing attention to oral narratives in the global south.