Face to Face

Oral History Meetings


Outcome of the Ninth National Meeting and the Third International Conference of Argentinian Oral History: 7 – 9 October 2010, Buenos Aires.

Held between the seventh and ninth of October 2009, the Ninth National and the Third International Conference of Argentinian Oral History delivered positive return. Historians from around the country participated in presenting more than one hundred and fifty works of research and reporting. Recognized specialists of oral history from the entire continent also participated. Amongst the distinguished guests were historians from the Brazilian Oral History Association and the President of the International Oral History Association, Pilar Domínguez Prats, who gave recognition to the Argentinian conference. In addition, there were an important number of publications presented. All in all, the events gave credit to a conference which has been growing both quantitatively and qualitatively in recent years. From the point of view of volume, it seems clear that there is a notable growth in the study of history using oral sources. From the point of view of quality, the works were submitted for consideration on the basis of pre-established criteria. This contributed to the fact that the papers attained the increasingly rigorous academic standards required.

The opening ceremony was marked by an emotional video presentation which paid homage to the life of Mercedes Miguez, one of the pioneers of Argentinian oral history. The meeting the progressed over three days of intense seminar discussions which drew together research presentations, lectures and debates. Many of these continued on into the recess periods, demonstrating the interest many of the works inspired. The themes dealt with by the researchers confirmed the trends established in previous meetings. Amongst the principle subjects discussed were: memory and militancy; memory and dictatorship; culture, art, narration and education; methodology; the world of labour; territory and migratory movements.

Considering the balance sheet of attendance, one must highlight the fact that there have been an increasing number of national participants delivering presentations. This increase is not coming just from the City and the Province of Buenos Aires, but also further afield, from around “the entire country”. As for other Latin American countries, Brazil was once more in the forefront with almost fifty papers being presented. Also represented were research contributions from Mexico, Columbia, Uruguay and Chile. From Europe we counted upon the now traditional participation of Spain, in addition to work from Portugal, France and Italy.

Committees and Discussion Panels

Various conference tables in which a variety of propositions were put forward crowned the meeting. Recent publications, including books and journals were presented, demonstrating the growing relevance of oral history to reading audiences in our country and its regions. Amongst the novelties, the Oral History Association of the Argentinean Republic presented its digital journal, Testimonies (www.revistatestimonios.com.ar), the appearance of which reinforces the notion that the production of oral history in the region and continent is increasing. Also, as is now customarily found at the various meetings, different audiovisual productions were presented. More than seven documentaries were shown, confirming the existence of a phenomenon in recent years; the growth of audiovisual productions related to oral history. This evidence corroborates once again the value of the nexus between history and cinema.

A separate paragraph is called for to mention the archival seminar in which several other novelties were presented. Amongst these, one can highlight the following projects:

  1. “open memory”, the non-governmental organization for human rights which presented its new catalogue, made available through the Website: http://www.memoriaabierta.org.ar/camino_al_museo3.php
  2. The Max Turkow Centre of Jewish Documentation and Information in Argentina of AMIA (El Centro de Documentación e Información Judeo argentino Max Turkow de la AMIA).
  3. The Political History Program (El Programa de Historia Política (PHP) del Instituto de Investigaciones Gino Germani (UBA)) was presented as a nodal organizing force in the network of oral archives of contemporary Argentina. See the Website: http://www.iigg.fsoc.uba.ar/historiapolitica/
  4. The oral archive, “subjectivity, politics and orality” of the Cultural Center for Cooperation (Centro Cultural de la Cooperación). This organization is specialized in relationships between intellectuals and the political domain. The archive is part of the Media Library of the Information Unit of the Cultural Center for Cooperation. See the Website: www.centrocultural.coop
  5. Finally, the historical archive of the Credit Cooperatives (El Cooperativismo de Crédito) was also presented. It is an archive dedicated to bringing together all available information about the Argentinian credit cooperative. See the Website: http://www.archicoop.com/

The Challenges

Following the meeting of Oral History came the moment for reflection about achievements. Having succeeded in establishing a conference at the international level, Argentina today is presented with a double edged challenge. On the one hand, there lies the need to strengthen even more internal ties, supporting the associations of the interior that feel to be represented by the meetings, and those that participate with more and more enthusiasm, bringing with them important quotas of production. On the other hand, as a result of the national conference and as a result of the visit of continental historians, it is necessary to begin thinking about strengthening South American ties. This is a future challenge that needs to be addressed to ensure that there is advancement towards continental consolidation, within the scope of the worldwide historiographical task. In this sense, the results of the Ninth National Meeting and the Third International Conference of Argentinian Oral History are highly positive and promising.

Graciela Browarnik, Adriana Echezuri and Rubén Kotler


Basque Country Bizkaia

Academic Sessions on Immaterial Patrimony in Bizkaia, 29 January 2010

The Cultural Heritage Service of the Department of Culture, Provincial Council of Bizkaia, organized in Bilbao a number of conferences on technical training. The sessions were entitled, “The Management of Immaterial Patrimony in Bizkaia”. They lasted a whole morning and some eighty people attended. Amongst the attendees were technicians from the Provincial Archives, cultural managers, representatives of cultural associations and researches.

This was a first approach to this complex subject and a new scope of activity in cultural management. What was initially forecast as a closed door exchange between speakers and representatives of the institution, became a series of conferences which captured the interest of the wider public. This transformation came about because of the diffusion of a message sent to an email mailing list. Logistically, it also became possible because of the availability of a room big enough to welcome the large public audience. A number of the papers presented will shortly be published on the Provincial Council Of Bizkaia’s Website at: www.bizkaia.net

Amongst the invited guests to were:

  1. Alfredo Asiain y Gaizka Aranguren from the Immaterial Patrimony Archive of Navarra, Pamplona-Iruña(Archivo del patrimonio inmaterial de Navarra, Pamplona-Iruña)
  2. Borja Aguinagalde from the National Vasco-IRARGI Archive, Vergara-Bergara (Archivo Nacional Vasco-IRARGI, Vergara-Bergara)
  3. Jon Baguës  from the Basque Archive of Music – ERESBIL, Rentería-Errentería (Archivo Vasco de la Música-ERESBIL, Rentería-Errentería)
  4. Ion López from the Basque Film Collection, San Sebastian / Donostia (Filmoteca Vasca, San Sebastian/Donostia)
  5. Anabella Barroso from the Diocesano Archive, Derio (Archivo Diocesano, Derio)
  6. Akaitze Kamiruaga and Luis Manuel Peña from the Labayru Institute, Derio (Instituto Labayru, Derio).

It became clear from the unfolding discussions that there was wide interest in the subject of training measures. There was also wide interest in questions related to methodology and the management of information (data bases, information technology, formats and supports). The outcomes of the various sessions were assessed through a follow-up questionnaire, sent out to those who had participated.

This conference was one part of what is expected to be a series of future activities. Amongst the planned activities is a series of conferences about international technical training. This will be designed for archivists in mind. Participation in an upcoming international conference is also planned, the “International Conference Immaterial Patrimony and Sound and Audiovisual Resources: from creation to diffusion”. This conference will be held at the Provincial Archive in Bilbao, in October 2010. The call for papers is now open. It is expected that a number of international experts will attend the conference, in addition to representatives from the Basque Country.

Furthermore, it is expected that a mailing list related to the theme will be sent out. It will provide news about upcoming activities and publications of potential interest. To complete this initiative, a questionnaire will be sent out in an effort to gauge what are the dimensions of existing resources (graphic, audio and audiovisual materials). Through this work, The Service of Cultural Patrimony, Bizkaia Council, aims to open up a new terrain of initiatives and activities.


Parejo-Coudert, Raphaël, “Memory and cultural dynamics in the Basque Country. The Basque Sound Archives: inventory, production and the Basque sound archives project”
The French Association of audio and audiovisual record holders (AFAS – Association française des détenteurs de documents sonores et audiovisuels)
23 January 2006 (Available online. Consulted on 14 April 2010): http://afas.imageson.org/document393.html
Parejo-Coudert, Raphaël (2009), “Oral History and Oral Archives Projects in the Basque Country”, United Kingdom: Oral History Society’s Journal, Volume 37, N°1, Spring 2009.


Basque Country Bilbao

Conference: To Record in Argentina: Processes of remembrance of the recent past.

The conference, “To Record in Argentina: Processes of remembrance of the recent past”, was organized by Professor Miren Llona. This effort was part of the work of Leioa, a research group directed by José Javier Díaz Freire,  Department of Contemporary History, University of the Basque Country – Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea (el Departamento de Historia Contemporámea de la Universidad de País Vasco-Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea).

On 10 February 2010, Professor Laura Benadiva delivered an interesting lecture about the complexity of the process of remembering the recent past in Argentina. Using different oral and audiovisual sources, Professor Benadiva showed the paradoxes of memory and the difficulties faced when reconstructing a democratic memory in Argentina. In the afternoon, the Leioa research group organized a seminar of debate about oral history methodology. This gave doctoral program students the opportunity to present their challenges in the practice of interview.

Miren Llona | [email protected]
University of the Basque Country / Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea


Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Oral History Seminar, “Rebuilding unique histories from diversity”, in terms of an application to the domain of human rights.

Professor María Luisa Iglesias and Professor María Luisa Monteiro, from the Department of Historical Sciences,  Faculty of Teacher Training and the Faculty of Geography and History at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, organized the oral history seminar, “Rebuilding unique histories from diversity”. It took place on the 1st and 2nd of February 2010 and was designed for students studying in the Faculty of Geography and History, in addition to students in the second cycle and teacher training programs. The seminar was also open to graduates and teachers interested in knowing about the uses of oral history methodology and in analyzing oral sources in relation to the theme of human rights. The seminar was delivered by Laura Benadiba, an historian and specialist in this methodology and constituted a follow-up seminar (to an earlier one) introducing the subject of oral history. The original seminar was held at the university in February 2009.

María Luisa Iglesias Hernández | [email protected]
University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain)