Oral history as a tool of legal analysis: women in the margins of Israeli society


  • Shimrit Lee SOAS, University of London


Researchers in the field of legal consciousness have traditionally relied on surveys, ethnographies, or in-depth interviews to gauge the ways in which individuals engage, avoid, or resist the law. This paper explores how oral history is able to enrich the study of legal consciousness in ways inaccessible to other methodologies. Oral history offers an intertemporal perspective, allowing researchers to trace the development and evolution of legal attitudes and interactions over time. To illustrate the unique function of oral history, I examine the oral history narratives of three Palestinian-Israeli women as they relate their experience with the law over the course of their lifetime. I suggest that combining the oral history technique with the more targeted approach of in-depth interviewing can most aptly capture individual legal consciousness. Research through oral history can further be used in the field of critical legal theory by drawing attention to collective historical grievances of marginalised groups.