Throughout 2009, I have been able to attend a number of Oral History conferences and meetings in Spain and around the world as president of the IOHA. This experience has been especially positive as I have been able to reassert my belief that the personal contact between Oral History researchers, teachers, students and social workers is irreplaceable. Indeed, it is a necessary complement to our professional relations that are increasingly established over the Internet and email.
The first international meeting I attended was the Italian Oral History Association Congress (AISO) that was held in Padua in May 2009. The AISO brought together a number of important figures in Oral History, among them Gabriella Gribaudi (the AISO president) and Sandro Portelli, with Sandro being particularly known for his work in oral history and for being one of the promoters of the international movement of oral historians of the IOHA. The conference’s theme “Una memoria fondata sul lavoro” [A memory based on labour] created a framework to discuss interesting papers on work and labour in Italy, Romania and Mexico. Based on oral, audiovisual and written sources, these paper focused on the second half of the twentieth century as well as current processes of globalization.
Turning to the southern hemisphere, I had the pleasure of attending the Ninth National Oral History Meeting organized by the Argentine Oral History Association (AHORA), presided by Liliana Barela and the University of Buenos Aires (Pablo Pozzi). In this conference, many of the papers centered on the recent Argentine dictatorship, focusing on the memories of party activists and human rights organizations. The importance of these testimonies can be understood by visiting the former Detention and Torture Centre (called the Athletic Centre), one of many that existed in Buenos Aires in 1977 when 1500 people disappeared.
Quite distinct was my visit to the ORT school where I chatted with young students that work in the school’s oral history archive. Thanks to the invitation extended by Laura Benadiba, I was able to grasp the interest that oral history generates in a classroom for younger generations of Argentines.
The seven hundred paper proposals that arrived to participate the XVI IOHA Conference in Prague is undoubtedly a challenge for the organization of the congress, particularly for our Czech colleagues who are working hard to make it a successful event. This interest should encourage all of us to strive for a new conference whose goal—as Sandro Portelli challenged us in Sydney—should be more than coming together to renew old friendships, but to meet new colleagues that test our points of view and assumptions about oral history. With this spirit, the IOHA Council is doing everything possible to obtain more travel grant funding for our conference in Prague in July 2010. I hope to see you all there.
Pilar Domínguez [email protected]