Oral History Scene in the Czech Republic – What’s New?

In 2013 we can “celebrate“ that the Oral History M.A. program at the Faculty of Humanities, Charles University in Prague, has been running already five years. In the Czech context it is a unique branch, the only one in the Czech Republic which offers combination of both a complex study of contemporary history and using oral history (with regard not only to Czech, respectively former Czechoslovak, but also international context).

This two-year follow-up M.A. program offers students a possibility to specialize either within a historical branch or a methodological branch. What does it mean? That segment of the study which puts emphasis on history leads students to greater understanding of concrete historical topics which are studied in an interdisciplinary way (using findings not only of historical research but also those from anthropology, political science, sociology, social linguistics, psychology etc.) and with respect to various geo-political contexts. On the other hand, the methodological segment stresses mainly theoretical and ethical aspects of the oral history using and various ways of this qualitative research method implementation in the study of contemporary history.

It is essential to provide students with relevant theoretical knowledge before they become respectable specialists in the branch. However, they need a lot of practice, too. They need to get in touch with “real” narrators. They need to try how research work looks like. Because of this, students are encouraged to participate in research projects, present their own works in conferences, take part-time jobs in research institutions. And more, there is an oral history laboratory at a disposal in the oral history department in the faculty. Here students can borrow digital voice recorders, cameras, video cameras, camera tripods, and data projector. Using all the equipment ensures that students are able to get high-quality audio and video recordings when they realize their own oral-history research.

You can see that students of the M.A. program combining contemporary history and oral history are considerably supported both theoretically and practically. Maybe that’s the reason why this program has got a good reputation and why an English version of the program “oral history – contemporary history” for foreign students has been established in 2012. In the near future the first foreign student will be graduated. Thus he (and another ninety one current students of the program) will increase a number of forty-one M.A. graduates of the oral history – contemporary history branch of study.

All the educational activities are a “long-time run” in the oral history scene. Speaking about news in the Czech oral history community, the third conference of the Czech Oral History Association held in March should not be omitted. The conference is organized regularly on a two-year base; each time in a different interesting place of the Czech Republic. This year conference participants from the Czech Republic and hosts from Slovakia (Monika Vrzgulova), Ireland (Regina Fitzpatrick), Ukraine (Gelinada Grinchenko) and Poland (Wiktoria Kudela-Swiatek) could discuss various topics of oral history and contemporary history disciplines in splendid rooms of the Pardubice castle. From now, all the conference participants associate Pardubice not only as a town where a famous cross-country steeplechase takes part…

For more news see webs www.fhs.cuni.cz/ohsd and www.oralhistory.cz.

Autora. Lenka Krátká

Contact: [email protected]