Oxford Russian Life History Archive

Project Description:

The work behind the Oxford archive is intended to complement work that has been carried out by other scholars, or that is currently in progress. Our remit is broad – this is intended as a modern equivalent of the Harvard Interview Project or the Soviet Interview Project, but focusing on testimony from Russians who are still living in the country rather than émigrés (though a specific study of émigré experience is also part of our work). We also take a different approach to recording testimony from that adopted as part of the Harvard Interview Project, being less concerned to record ‘what really happened’ under Soviet power, and more concerned to assemble a wide and varied range of memories of the Soviet past, and of the post-Soviet years. We have tried to give emphasis to the memories of those who have not customarily left written autobiographies, and who have sometimes fallen outside the purview of those collecting oral testimony, particularly members of the urban working classes and young people, whose autobiographies are different from those of the middle-age and elderly, including more concrete detail and fewer set-piece narratives (baiki, memoraty). Material has been collected in Moscow, St Petersburg, Perm, Taganrog, Vorkuta, and two rural sites – a settlement in Leningrad province that is the site of a good deal of in-migration from other parts of rural Russia, and a village in Novgorod province whose largely settled population was well-developed. Currently, the website contains extracts from interviews that can be downloaded as PDFs and some sample interviews as sound files. Complete interviews can be accessed on written application to Catriona Kelly.