Future Conferences and Meetings


17th International Conference of Oral History, IOHA, Buenos Aires, 4-7 September 2012

Less than a year to the 17th International Conference of the IOHA in Buenos Aires, the local committee are working non-stop for the conference participants.

So far, the committee has created a website – www.baires2012.org – which is recognizable by the logo that not only represents Buenos Aires but also the diversity of the city’s inhabitants and visitors. Through this page, one could learn about the conference, the sending, evaluation and acceptance of papers, the types of accommodation in Buenos Aires that we have arranged, and about the headquarters of the conference (“Floreal Gorini” Centre of Cultural Co-operation, the San Martin Cultural Centre, Casa Virrey Liniers), all of which are located in the civic centre of the city of Buenos Aires. The local committee has expanded the subthemes of the conference to include issues related to indigenous peoples, the new economy, art and politics, etc.

The conference programme that we are organizing will be attended by leading experts, amongst whom we count the presence of important specialists such as Rob Perks, Curator of the National Life Stories, British Library, Daniel James, expert on labour movements and gender studies and Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, tireless proponent for creating awareness and inclusion of indigenous peoples. The program also includes the conference keynote speakers. The diverse thematic panels which have been planned will address methodological issues, issues of ethics, gender, diversity, inequality and identity construction. To promote networking between the participants, we are organizing parallel sessions so as to facilitate attendance at the presentations of other participants.

In short, at this conference we wish to bring together the quality of the presentations, the ability to provide points of contact between researchers around the world through lectures, panel discussions, interest groups and, of course, opportunities to exchange knowledge and experience, including visits to the city, welcome and farewell parties as well as moments of conversation and reflection.

Liliana Barela

Local Committee, Baires 2012





Bridging generations: interdisciplinarity and life stories in the 21st century


Oral history and life history approaches in the social sciences


Volos, 25-27 May 2012


Call for papers


The aim of this conference is to contribute to the creation of an interdisciplinary community of researchers working in the fields of oral history, memory studies and the biographical approach in the social sciences. Researchers from different disciplines use life stories to explore human lived experiences, the multiple interconnections between the individual and society, the ways in which subjectivities are constructed and determined by social and historical factors. Oral history and the biographical approach provide excellent tools to explore how social agents face abrupt social change and ruptures in their daily lives, related to political or economic crisis, (forced) migration, the deregularization of labour relations and the deconstruction of the welfare state. Oral history has been also linked to the democratization of history and to the emergence of subjects that had been excluded from the narratives of history. To what extent has oral history been recognized as a legitimate field of historical knowledge?

In this conference we want to take stock of the developments in these fields in Greece over the last ten years and to link them to the theoretical and methodological debates going on elsewhere in the world. A central question which concerns us is whether the institutional recognition of oral history, as well as the “memory boom” of the 1990s and the use of digital media in mass communications have moved oral history away from its initial objectives: to contribute to a critical approach to social phenomena and to connect historical and social research with the communities we study (for a relevant debate, see http://www.iohanet.org.debate). In the period of crisis we are living through, this question acquires new meanings. With the participation of leading scholars in the field, the conference aims to create a space where old and new generations can meet and exchange their knowledge. The title of the conference “bridging generations” thus concerns both the narrative interview itself, where knowledge and meanings are transmitted from one generation to the next, and the encounter between two generations of researchers involved with biographical research. A second goal of the conference is to create a Greek Oral History Association as a new national section of the International Oral History Association.

With this perspective we invite you to take part in the conference and present a paper, focusing in particular on the peculiarities of oral evidence as a source of knowledge which can give new insights into our societies through the encounter of the subjectivity of our narrators with the collective processes of history and society.

We propose the following themes for the conference:

  • Oral history and the community

Today our societies are characterized by extreme individualism, but at the same time new collectivities emerge which reclaim a voice in the public space. In this context, the notion of community acquires new meanings, very different from the old tradition of “community studies”. We are particularly interested in the following questions: a) how can individual narratives contribute to the formation of a sense of community? b) in which ways can oral history contribute to the empowerment of (local and globalised) communities to help them face the challenges of the present? c) what is the contribution of oral narratives in improving mutual understanding within divided or multi-cultural communities? d) how can we “give back” our research findings to the communities we study? e) how can local communities create their own narratives on the past, the present and the future?

  • Oral history and digital media

The diffusion of digital technologies has brought radical changes not only in biographical research, but also in the media, in museums and in the “social media”. We would like to see, first of all, some good examples of how digital media can be used in providing access to oral narratives, for example in museum exhibitions and through the Internet. At the same time, however, we want to problematize this relation through questions such as a) what are the new (national or global) power relations or forms of resistance that can be created through digital technologies? b) in which ways can digital technology contribute to an anthropology of the senses? What do we gain and what do we lose by adding image to sound? c) to what extent do media such as YouTube contribute to a new form of uncritical master narratives? d) in which ways has the creation of audiovisual archives influenced the notion of the archive, which has served as a metonym for history?

  • Oral history in periods of crisis

This theme concerns on the one hand periods of crisis of the past (war, civil wars, natural disasters) and on the other the present economic crisis which affects all societies in the world, but especially Europe. Greece finds itself in the eye of the storm and has already changed radically after only two years of austerity measures. These experiences are emblematic for the social and political consequences that may be produced in other countries as well. Therefore, it is a privileged field for research on the new social dynamics created by the crisis. Do we have already some examples of such research with the use of oral narratives and how can we record these experiences?

  • Oral history in education

International experience has shown that oral history programmes in school education, and especially in history classes, can help students to increase their interest in the learning process, to develop critical historical knowledge and thinking, and improve their competences in the interpretation of historical sources. This may in turn have a positive impact on the pupils’ understanding of broader crucial social issues, such as the marginalization of ethnic groups, of immigrants and other minorities, or of social traumas, such as those faced by deeply divided societies.  We are especially interested in the presentation of exemplary oral-history educational programmes developed in different countries, both in the field of primary and secondary education and in undergraduate or postgraduate academic teacher-training courses, and of new relevant theoretical investigations and research. In the second place, we would like to discuss the role of oral history in documenting educational practices of the past and the multiple ways in which they are changing today.  In the present context of global restructuring of education according to “New Public Management” models, such research is particularly relevant.

  • Oral history and memory studies

Since the 1980s oral history and biographical research have contributed significantly to the improvement of our understanding of the processes through which individual and social memory are constructed. Yet, during the last two decades academic interest seems to have shifted to the study of public memory (sites of memory, politics of memory). This field of “memory studies” has often ignored the theoretical insights of oral history and rarely uses oral narratives as a source of knowledge. How can we bridge this gap? Some of the topics which might concern us here are the relation between individual and collective memory, the role of subjectively lived experience in relation with broader social and political processes and the techniques of analysis of oral narratives.

If you are interested in participating in this conference, you are kindly invited to send a title and abstract, indicating the topic that interests you, until February, 28, 2012, to the following email address: [email protected]

The organizing committee

Riki Van Boeschoten – University of Thessaly
Tasoula Vervenioti – Greek Open University
Maria Thanopoulou – EKKE (National Centre for Social Research)
Irini Nakou – University of Thesaly
Konstandina Bada – University of Ioannina
Pothiti Hantzaroula – University of the Aegean
Yorgos Tsiolis – University of Crete