Oral History Meetings


Oral and Audiovisual History Workshop, Fundação Getúlio Vargas, Rio de Janeiro, 18 April 2007


The Oral and Audiovisual History Workshop took place on 18 April 2007 at the Fundação Getúlio Vargas in Rio de Janeiro. This workshop offered an introduction to CPDOC testimonial video recording and production. At the same time, it examined the challenges and opportunities that the computer and Internet technologies have offered, especially in the conservation and dissemination of oral history interviews. The CPDOC team reflected on the effects of these new techniques in library science and field research. During the workshop these interconnected issues were debated by specialists from different academic areas. The complete program is available athttp://www.cpdoc.fgv.br Other recent meetings in Brazil included the Fourth Regional ANPUH/MT History Meeting and the Twelfth History Week of UFMT Rondonópolis, Mato Grosso. These conferences took place between 5-9 March 2007. And from 2-5 May 2007 the Sixth Northeastern Oral History Meeting was held in Ilhéus, Bahia. A large number of oral historians attended. Particularly noteworthy was the participation of Alejandro Portelli.


Memory and Narration–Oral History Research in the Northern European Context International Research Symposium in Helsinki, Finland, 15–17 November 2006

The research symposium “Memory and Narration–Oral History Research in the Northern European Context” gathered oral historians from Nordic and Baltic countries to Helsinki 15–17 November 2006. The symposium was funded and organized by the Finnish Literature Society, the Department of Folklore Studies (University of Helsinki) and the Finnish Oral History Network (FOHN). The idea of the symposium had originated in the meetings of the Nordic-Baltic network “Oral History and Biographies as resources for Local and Cross-cultural Studies.” The purpose was to stimulate methodological discussion in oral history research. Among the organizers were also the Department of Social Science History (University of Helsinki), the Postgraduate School of Cultural Interpretations and the research project “The Invention of Heroes” (Academy of Finland 2006–2008). The participants came from Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Canada and USA. Six universities (Helsinki, Joensuu, Tampere, Turku, Oulu and Rovaniemi) were represented from Finland.

Dr. Ulla-Maija Peltonen pointed out in her opening speech that it is not only important to discuss the oral and written sources and their analysis, but also the wider theoretical starting points of oral history research. What is an acceptable subject for research? Who needs oral history? How do we create and recreate knowledge? How does oral history research broaden our understanding of the past?

These essential questions were also discussed by the keynote speakers. Ronald J. Grele (Columbia University, USA) summarized recent interdisciplinary debates on oral history and Joanna Bornat (The Open University, UK) discussed oral history in relation to age and ageing. During three intensive days 47 papers were presented in 15 sessions on various topics: conflicts, survival and silence; experience and narration; identity and narration; oral and literary narration; social and collective memory; memories of work and environment; life-stories and genre; everyday life and popular culture; popular historiography; fieldwork methodology. The high-quality papers inspired a lively debate on oral history methodology.

Ronald J. Grele gave his keynote lecture on the first day of the symposium. Photo: Finnish Literature Society.

Oral history has become an important part of humanities and social sciences in Finland since the mid 1990s. Interdisciplinary initiative has come from folklore studies, history (especially history of mentalities, micro-history and gender studies), literature, anthropology, ethnology, comparative religion, psychology, sociology, linguistics. Several doctoral dissertations based on oral history have been published and defended since the 1990s. Oral history has also been strong in Estonia and Latvia where many research, interview and archival projects have been organized during the last years. The symposium “Memory and Narration” was an important footstep in this process and a stimulus for further cooperative projects.

Ulla-Maija Peltonen & Kirsti Salmi-Niklander [email protected]



News from the Second International Oral History Conference, Panama, 2007


Twelve Colombians, as delegates from the Oral History Collective, University of del Valle, La Salle University, Distrital University, the Teaching University, IDEP, and the Bogota Ministry of Education, participated in the Second International Oral History Conference on “Constructing the Other History: Sources and Methodology” and “Historiographical, Teaching and Visual Experiences,” held in Panama City, 29-31 January 2007, and in the workshop, “Classroom uses for Oral History,” 1-2 February, under the guidance of the University of Panama.

Members of the collective presented the following papers: “Primary school historical research projects and the making of oral archives,” (D. Daza); “Uses of public places in Bogota, 1910-1948: An historical perspective from social practices and collective memory” (L. Para); and “The sway of categories from history (as a discipline) during the implementation of oral history projects” (F. Castro). Fabio Castro presented a workshop on “Didactic uses of oral history, together with Laura Benadiba (Argentina) and Gerardo Necoechea (Mexico).

This meeting benefited from a broad international participation, drawing more than forty researchers from Spain, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Honduras, Argentina, México and Colombia. There was also a good turnout from Panama. The encounter served as a stage to promote the attendance of a large Latin America delegation for the next IOHA Congress to be held in Mexico, 2008. It was also agreed that a third meeting will be held in Nicaragua, 2009.

Besides the tight academic agenda (organized into six seminars), participants had an opportunity to do some sightseeing. In our case, tourist attractions became places of learning about Panamanian history. The Avenida de los Mártires reminded us of the 1964 massacre committed by US Marines against the Panamanian people and a visit to the Canal Zone to see the locks and the land returned as a result of the Torrijos-Carter Treaty of 1977. In this way, we became familiar with processes such as the construction of a third set of locks, the sale of land and building of former US military bases. More obviously, we noted the architectural changes in the historical center—as well as in other parts of the city—derived from the “recovery” brought on by large tourist companies. We were also able to briefly consider the influence of Colombia in Panamanian history, such as the capital of reputed Colombian origin and the events of 1903 when Panama claimed its “independence” from Colombia or when Panama separated from Colombia as a result of US intervention and interests.

In regards to oral history, we were able to share experiences and discuss with Mercedes Vilanova (founder of the IOHA and director of the journal Historia, Antropología y Fuentes Orales), Pilar Domínguez (vice-president of the IOHA) and Jorge E. Aceves (CIESAS Mexico).

With them, we were able to survey experiences of oral history from Central America to Chile and to the Canary Islands. We were also able to see again a number of researchers that we had met in Brazil, Mexico and Bogota. All said, the oral history movement in Latin Americas is growing, slowly but surely.

Fabio Castro [email protected]
Oral History Collective (Colombia)