Characteristics of institutional remembering: Parliament as a producer of MPs’ oral history in Finland Cover Image

Institutsioonikeskse meenutamise erijooni. Endised parlamendisaadikud suulise ajaloo loojaina Soomes
Characteristics of institutional remembering: Parliament as a producer of MPs’ oral history in Finland

Author(s): Pauliina Latvala-Harvilahti, Joni Krekola
Subject(s): Customs / Folklore
Published by: Eesti Kirjandusmuuseum
Keywords: institutions; interviews; position analysis; power; recounting; veteran MPs’ oral history

Summary/Abstract: Our aim is to introduce the oral history project of veteran MPs in Finland and to depict some aspects of our ongoing research. The Library of the Finnish Parliament has, since 1988, produced over 340 oral history interviews with veteran parliamentarians, politically active in the post-war era. The recently digitalised collection – approximately 2,000 hours of recorded theme interviews and 50,000 pages of transcriptions – sheds light on the changes and continuities in parliamentarians’ work and their views on society and political life since the 1940s. Parliamentarians, mandated by the people through elections, operate in the conjunction of democracy, where the will of the people is supposed to be refined into political decision-making. Parliamentarians’ thinking on politics and political life is also intriguing on the grounds that while the Members of Parliament work in the prime forum of national politics, a major share of the actual power may still lie somewhere else in society. Moreover, MPs’ views on their own work have rarely been explored, even though they are at the heart of politics. In this article, we ask what kind of benefit or disadvantage results from the fact that interviews are conducted, transcribed and archived by the same institution that ex-MPs have served during their political career. We also argue that oral history of the MPs should be approached not only in terms of elite oral history as a given category, but also by paying attention to the variation of MPs’ experiences as political representation. The concept of institutional remembering provides frames for understanding interviews as communicative events, where both parties are active agents in positioning themselves and the other. In this article, we show how the questions posed by the interviewers are also a substantial part of the data as they frame the concept of power in a negative or positive manner.

  • Issue Year: 2014
  • Issue No: 56
  • Page Range: 39-60
  • Page Count: 22
  • Language: Estonian