N. Milanich


On July 19, 2023, Nara Milanich, professor of history, published new research, alongside colleague Fanny Julissa García in The Oral History Review, titled “Money Talks: Narrator Compensation in Oral History.” The article focuses on Milanich and García’s firsthand experiences paying the narrators who contributed their stories for an oral history project they developed with Central American migrant families. In this article, the researchers delve into the decision-making process that led them to pay project participants and review arguments for and against compensation in similar situations. Ultimately, they made a case for situated compensation: the idea that decisions about whether, how, and how much to pay narrators are project-specific and must take into consideration a series of factors, including the profile of the narrators, the nature of the interviews, the context of the project, and its goals or deliverables.

With “Money Talks,” Milanich and García seek to provide oral historians and other researchers with the tools they need to practice situated compensation, by assessing and making informed decisions regarding payment practice in their work on a case-by-case basis. While the article focuses specifically on compensation for narrators in oral history, the researchers’ work seeks to open up a dialogue surrounding the greater — sometimes taboo — topic of compensation in research practice.