What does a community-engaged history of late twentieth-century Britain look like? How can it transform our practice as historians? And what wider stories about British identities and cultures can it impart? This paper considers these questions in relation to our current AHRC-funded project, ‘Children and young people’s telephone use and telephone cultures in Britain, c. 1984-1999’. Our work includes digital and in-person engagement collecting stories and memories of children and teenagers’ telephone use in the 1980s and 1990s as well as arts engagement, encouraging family groups and young people to respond to the research through creative activities.
In this paper, we offer reflections on the methodological and ethical challenges we have been meeting in our engaged research which are helping us to test further our core research questions. The various ways in which individuals have interacted with our engaged research activities, and considered their own relationship to our research, has underlined that Britain’s telephonic youth culture is part of a wider global history of Britain and of individuals’ memories and perceptions of Britain and Britishness. This paper will discuss what we are learning from the process of our engaged research and how it is shaping wider conclusions in the project about the relationship between identity, scale and space in this untold history.
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