New Perspectives on Oral Traditions in History
J.D. McArthur and Vilas Research Professor Emeritus, History and Anthropology
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Time and Location
12:00pm, 206 Ingraham Hall, 1155 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI
Recent research about memory processes shows that we should no longer lump together all oral evidence – or even only all oral traditions – as a single kind of source of history because they are produced by two different processes of remembering. Traditions are easily separated into two different sets and reordering them as such leads to a greatly improved critical treatment of oral source and hence to a considerable increase in their reliability as evidence.
Jan Vansina is a retired historian and anthropologist of Africa best known for his contributions to the study of oral traditions and to African history.