‘It’s Not History. It’s My Life’: Researcher Emotions and the Production of Critical Histories of the Women’s Movement
Emotion and the Researcher: Sites, Subjectivities, and Relationships
ISBN: 978-1-78714-612-9, eISBN: 978-1-78714-611-2
Publication date: 23 August 2018
Purpose – This chapter explores the significance of emotional exchanges between historians and their research participants in the production of critical histories of the late twentieth-century British women’s movement. It argues for the importance of exploring the ways in which positive emotions, including feelings of excitement, reverence and commonality, influence the research process and potentially complicate historians’ capacity to produce histories that critically assess popular narratives of the development of the women’s movement.
Methodology/Approach – This chapter draws on qualitative assessments of my own experiences carrying out oral history interviews with women’s movement members to explore the emotional exchanges that take place during the research process. It utilises several historiographical concepts, including being a ‘fan of feminism’, discussions about historical subjectivity and oral history debates about empathy, to reflect on my emotional responses whilst carrying out research.
Findings – This chapter demonstrates that positive emotional exchanges between historians and their research participants influence the production of critical histories of the women’s movement. It highlights how historians’ personal identifications with their areas of study impact on their emotional engagement with research participants, potentially complicating or contravening their wider historical aims.
Originality/Value – Several historians have explored how negative emotional exchanges with research participants influenced their production of critical histories of the women’s movement. By focusing on the influence of positive emotional exchanges, this chapter provides an original contribution to this area of reflexive discussion, as well as wider assessments of historical subjectivity and researcher empathy.
Mahoney, K. (2018), "‘It’s Not History. It’s My Life’: Researcher Emotions and the Production of Critical Histories of the Women’s Movement", Loughran, T. and Mannay, D. (Ed.) Emotion and the Researcher: Sites, Subjectivities, and Relationships (Studies in Qualitative Methodology, Vol. 16), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 65-80. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1042-319220180000016005
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