Oral History Conferences

Centre for Public History: Collaboration with National Life Stories, British Library, London.

The Center for Public History (CPH), at Srishti, facilitated five days of sharing of memory-exchange strategies between oral historians from the British Library and scholars from Indian academia with the support of a ‘Connections through Culture’ grant from the British Council.

A Conference titled “Oral History and the Sense of Legacy” was organized by CPH at the National Gallery of Modern Art Auditorium, Bangalore on 19th July. The conference drew 170 participants from all over India; the speakers included, Dr. Robert Perks, Director and Lead Curator, and Mary Stewart, Deputy Director, National Life Stories, British Library London; Dr CS Lakshmi, Director, SPARROW, Mumbai; Urvashi Butalia, Founder of Kali for Women and head of Zubaan Books, Dr Suroopa Mukherjee, University of Delhi; Shabnam Virmani, Kabir Project, and Dr. Indira Chowdhury, CPH, Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology.

On 20th July Dr. Rob Perks and Mary Stewart conducted a one-day training workshop on the process of producing oral history interviews. This workshop was attended by Srishti Faculty as well as representatives of different Institutions and NGOs.

The scholars invited also spent some time in the city facilitated by Arun Pai of Bangalore Walks. The group then discussed the possibility of using the interaction of the metro construction with the city as an interface along which to record stories of the city. The deliberations concluded with a discussion on on possible future collaborations between CPH at Srishti, and National Life Stories, British Library, London. [241 words not counting title]




“To discuss problems and questions that are brought to light in the field of history, and to focus on the methodological practice of oral history as well as to question the historical narrative in relation to the practice of teaching history,” was the general objective of the Seminar and Workshop on Historiography, Research and Teaching Practices and Oral Sources. This event took place from February 6th to February 10th, 2012, in the Professors’ Hall of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Panama, with the facilitators being the academics Antonio Torres Montenegro and Regina Guimaraes Neto, Federal University of Pernambuco in Brazil.

In spite of the temporary closure of the University of Panama during the first two days of the event due to the social movement led by the ethnic group Ngäbe, who are opposed to mining in their territory, we began the seminar at the Events Room at the National Library. We have been generously offered this room by the Director of the National Library, Professor Nitzia Barrantes.

Twenty-two people attended as well as thirteen university professors. Seven of them belonged to the School of History from the Central Campus, including the Director of the School of History, four professors from the School of Tourism, including the Director of the School of Historical and Cultural Tourism and the Coordinator of Continuing Education at the Faculty of Humanities, two anthropologists and a teacher from the Regional Centre of La Chorrera, an architect from the Office of Research and Graduate Studies, three students from the School of History, a graduate of the Master of Tourism degree, two teachers and freshmen from the School of Sociology at the University of Panama, as well as the presence during certain days of Ngäbe students.

The program content had two focal points: 1, theoretical and methodological issues, in which we include at this point the definition and conceptualization of terms such as history, memory, memory stories, oral sources, chronological time, the time of experiences, lived history, documentary history and the relationships between these terms. The approach was done through discussions and the reading of authors such as Le Goff, Nora, Bergson, Proust, as well as the second focal point, the practice of research and teaching, which looked at reflections on oral sources, the production of historical texts and teaching practices.

The final day included a session where attendees offered previews of their proposals or research projects using oral history methodology, which were discussed amongst the participants and the facilitators.

This occasion was used to make favorable comments about the seminar, which undoubtedly was achieved by the academic background, the educational exposure and the friendly atmosphere promoted by the academics Montenegro and Guimaraes.

The closing session of the seminar was presented by Dr. Regina Guimaraes Neto, who emphasized the value of oral history. She encouraged greater historiographical production with this methodology and urged those present to participate in international meetings.

Dr. Antonio Montenegro also participated in the closing session. He proposed the creation of an oral history archive which would contain the recordings of our interviews and those of other researchers, as well as visual material. The response to this suggestion was made by the Director of the School of History, Dr. Fermina Santana, who will be responsible for creating of the archive – news that pleased everyone present.

The entire week had a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, after learning that Silvia Carrera and the government would sit down at a negotiating table. With its ups and downs the dialogue was suspended twice, but happily it ended a month later with 85% in favor of the indigenous.

Marcela Camargo R.

[email protected]

University of Panama

April, 2012.


Introductory Workshop on Oral History and Historical Memory,

Faculty of Arts at the University of Malaga (UMA),

Malaga, Monday 13th February 2012

Among the activities conducted during the months of January and February by Laura Benadiba in Spain, where she participated in various forums and where she taught courses and workshops and promoted the activities of the ‘Other Memories’ Association, this workshop was one of them.

The organization of the workshop was conducted by Dr. Maria Dolores Ramos Palomo, from the Department of Modern and Contemporary History, University of Malaga. The role of the secretariat was performed by Remedios García Muñoz. Help was also received from the Andalusian Historical Research Group and the ‘Other Memories’ Association.

As a tribute to one of the pioneers of Oral History – British researcher Ronald Fraser who died in Valencia on 12 February 2012 – Benadiba Laura began the workshop by reading an excerpt from the prologue of the book “Recuérdalo tú y recuérdalo a otros” (Blood of Spain, 1979) where Fraser presents a suggestive question: Is History created by those who live it or those who write it?


In the first half, we worked in eight groups performing an interview exercise on the subject of “Education during the 70s”. We did this through questionnaires: we conducted interviews with people of different ages, who adopted various roles (interviewer, observer, interviewed). Once the interviews were done, Laura Benadiba placed emphasis on the key issues taken into account when planning and conducting an Oral History interview.

After a pause, two films were screened. One was dedicated to the memory of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina. The other was on “historical memory” in Spain, in particular the zone of Los Merinales in Sevilla. Also screened was a fragment of the No-Do (News and Documentaries). Through a comparision of the sources, we noted the need to establish a dialogue between the different sources that allows us to build a part of the past, while realizing that there will always be new questions to ask.


The participants –more than 70 – will receive from Professor Benadiba distance tutoring towards projects that were created at the end of the day.


LAURA BENADIVA, ‘Other Memories’ Association

[email protected]