Our conference in the Mexican city of Guadalajara in September 2008–run jointly with the Mexican Oral History Association–has been my main concern in recent months. We received 789 proposals, striking evidence about the interest in oral history around the world. But it has not been easy dealing with so many proposals. Two teams of Council members (one for English language proposals led by Megan Hutching, one for Spanish language led by Rina Benmayor) reviewed all the proposals. Thank you, it was a huge task! The results of our review were placed on line and then emailed to each presenter.

There were some technical hitches with the conference website (http://www.congresoioha2008.cucsh.udg.mx), and also difficulties communicating with presenters whose email address had changed, but one way or another we hope that all successful presenters received an email and the instructions about lodging their final paper on the conference website–with an extended deadline of 30 April 2008.

A next major task will be to devise the program. I must apologize to IOHA members and others who have sometimes had difficulty in communicating with the conference organizers in Mexico. But I am sure that like all previous IOHA conferences, the Guadalajara conference will prove to be an exciting, stimulating and enjoyable event, an opportunity to meet and learn from oral historians from around the world, and in particular to learn about oral history in Mexico and neighboring countries.

Meanwhile, my IOHA Council colleagues Pilar Dominguez and Alexander Freund, with support from colleagues in Mexico, have devised an excellent Master Class program which will take place in Guadalajara on the Monday (22 September) before the main conference begins. Master class topics will include: ‘Memory, History, Trauma and the Practice of Oral History’; ‘Video Editing for Oral Historians’; and ‘Preparing Oral History Interviews for Publication’. Details of the Master Classes will be on the conference website and participants will book a place when they register for the conference.

IOHA has successfully raised just over US$14,000 for a Scholarship Fund to enable oral historians without institutional support, especially those from developing and under-represented regions and countries, to participate and present their work in this professionally important biennial event. We are particularly grateful for financial contributions from the US Oral History Association, the UK Oral History Society, the Oral History Association of Australia, and from an anonymous donor. In 2004, scholarship recipients came to the IOHA conference in Rome from Argentina, Bosnia, Congo, Gambia, the Philippines, Russia, the Ukraine, Uruguay, and Zimbabwe. In 2006, they came to Sydney from Argentina, Chile, China (Hong Kong), Guatemala, Mexico, India, Samoa, the Ukraine, and Zimbabwe. My IOHA Council colleagues Tineke Jansen and Marilda Menezes have received and responded to numerous applications for scholarships from around the world, and we look forward to the participation of our scholarship holders in the Mexico conference.

For many years we have been indebted to our colleague Marieta de Moraes Ferreira in Brazil, and the Getulio Vargas Foundation, which has hosted the IOHA website since IOHA’s inception. We are now looking to develop a more modern and flexible website, and my IOHA Council colleagues Rob Perks, Sean Field and Rina Benmayor are currently reviewing tenders for the new website, which we plan to have on line by the September conference.

Also in Mexico, Gerardo Necoechea, editor of IOHA’s journal Words and Silences, explains that the two outstanding issues of the journal will be produced and circulated simultaneously within the next month or so. And Council members Don Ritchie and Pilar Domingues continue to work extremely hard, and very effectively, to produce this regular IOHA newsletter. I must make a special mention of Juan José Gutiérrez, our official IOHA translator, who coordinates the bilingual translation of IOHA publications – and has been tremendously helpful in facilitating communication between IOHA Council members and the conference organizers in Mexico.

Looking ahead to the 2010 biennial IOHA conference, we have received very promising progress report from the new Czech oral history association, which is developing a proposal for a conference in Prague in the European summer of 2010. Miroslav Vanek will present a proposal from the Czech Republic for our consideration in September at the conference in Guadalajara. I look forward to meeting many of you in Mexico in September.

Al Thomson [email protected]
IOHA President