XVII International Oral History Conference



 XVII International Oral History Conference: “The Challenges of Oral History in the 21st Century: Diversity, Inequality and Identity Construction.", was successfully held in Buenos Aires from 4 to 7 September 2012.

Based on the received information from Argentina about 700 papers, and about twice that in terms of people have attended in this conference. We should mention that we received the news few days late because of heavy rain and collapse of internet in Argentina.

The Latin American contingents were quite numerous, especially Brazilians, Chileans, and Mexicans (Argentines of course, but they were supposed to be there). There were all sorts of papers, many really interesting and challenging on the varied uses of oral history... from environmental issues to politics and activism.

On Oral History and Politics, the conference was really interesting as it brought together perspectives and research from widely different realities, from West Bengal, to South Africa, to the Spanish "Indignados", and Brazilian feminists.

Though simultaneous translation was provided for the opening and closing conferences, the non-Spanish speakers complained about adequate translation of the papers in the sessions they attended. It worth mentioning that when Hispanics go to conferences in Anglo nations they never ever provide translators of any type and would consider others to be strange if they demand such services.

There were some roundtables held beside the conference programs; e.g. a round table, organized by Eugenia Meyer who is the dean of Oral History in Latin America, where they discussed the political and ethical implications of what oral historians are doing. There was a Chilean, a Colombian, a Brazilian, Dra Meyer (who is Mexican) and Dr. Pablo Pozzi.
Argentinean Ministry of Education held a reception for the foreign scholars where it announced that it intended to include oral history in the formal curricula at all school levels, and requested Argentinean Oral History Association to evaluate the propose this program.
Finally, the new IOHA leadership is headed by a Mexican scholar, Ana María de la O Castellanos Pinzón, and a Brazilian.

Dr. Pozzi in answering our question about lack updating IOHA official website and also the conference website (www.baires2012.org) for the news of the conference said: “There was a changeover in IOHA leadership, from the more traditional European towards Latin American and Third World folks. This is good (I think) but the Anglo speaking First Worlders are not happy... so they are not cooperating, and the transition is going to take a few months. …the other problem was that The IOHA conference site was hacked three times... we found the people who did it (they say it was for "fun"), and could do nothing except improve our firewall.”

The closest papers about Middle East or Islamic World were papers from India... one of them, by Shyamal Chandra Sarkar. It deals with the Berubari movement in West Bengal. This identity resistance movement arose from the Muslim-Hindi partition of India that gave rise to Pakistan and then to Bangladesh. The partition left some 102 Muslim communities in India, and 90 odd Hindi in Bangladesh. So the paper, while not strictly from an Islamic country, did deal with the problem of Muslim identity. Another paper was on Lebanese emigration by Samira Osman, and a paper by Hamad Bin Seray, from United Arab Emirates.

There was also a round table on the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by Israel with Andre Gattaz (a Brazilian historian who specializes on the subject) and Alejandro Falco (an historian and publisher who is the main publicist of Ilan Pappe and his works in the southern cone of Latin America).

Despite heavy expenses for traveling to Argentina, even for the locals, in the closing activity (a concert and a reception at the city cultural center) some 600 guests participated.
For the next conference and when and where it should be held, no decision was made. One of the problems IOHA has is that lack of resources makes people wary of offering to host the conference.

The papers of the conference will not published a book, as it would be thousands of pages. But the officials did put out a CD, and will put them up on the web. Most of them would be in Spanish or Portuguese.

A brief report on the Conference, in English, would be available in few days along with photos.

Edited by Mohammad Karimi
With special thanks to Dr. Pablo Pozzi, Argentina



 
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