Review of the 17th International Oral History Conference

By Rubén Kotler  / Translate: Alexia Massholder

Held in Buenos Aires from 4 to 7 September 2012, the XVII International Oral History Conference: “The Challenges of Oral History in the 21st Century: Diversity, Inequality and Identity Construction" concluded successfully. For five days we could share and exchange experiences with colleagues from all over the world in discussions and debates that went further the sessions and panels. Co organized by the International Oral History Association and the Asociación de Historia Oral de la República Argentina; the Conference received more than 600 participants from the five continents.
The Conference opened on Monday 3th with the traditional Master Classes given by internationally well-known specialists, and focused on subjects such as racism, trauma in post dictatorship periods, ecology and environment, qualitative analysis and use of new technologies to process oral history interviews, archives, the oral history as a political instrument for native and mining communities. During this first day, the historians Verena Alberti, Amilcar Araujo Pereira, Sean Field, Marcos Fabio Freire Montysuma, Juan José Gutierrez, Rob Perks y Mary Stewart, Silvia Rivera Cusicansqui and Ada Marina Lara Meza, shared their working experiences in depth in special classes that included methodology, theory and their own experience of this experts.
The official opening of the Conference took place on September 4th, with the first parallel sessions and documentaries, and closed in Centro Cultural San Marín with the opening conference by Elizabeth Jelín, who retook some ideas referred to memory, her main object of work. In the opening, Dr. Pablo Pozzi, President of AHORA, welcomed colleagues and announced the First Latin American Oral History Award “Eugenia Meyer”, with the approval of Latin American historians and Eugenia Meyer herself, one of the outstanding historians of the Conference. The Award is promoted by the Latin American Oral History Network and aims to stimulate the development of research with oral sources in the continent.
The rest of the working days, historians from all continents got together around more than 60 working sessions with near 10 papers each, in 14 subthemes to discuss proposed by the organization. From the 1000 abstracts received originally, near the 60% came to the Conference and participate in the four venues: Centro Cultural de la Cooperación, Centro Cultural San Martín, Centro de Formación Marxista Agosti and Casa del Historiador. All with double shift, activities started at 9 am and continued until noon, after a lunch break that allowed participants to continue exchanging ideas. At the same time, the organizers offered documentaries and panels with specialists from different countries, to give a broader frame to exchange inquiries and oral history.
The various subjects for discussion revolved around archives and places of memory, audiovisual, health, genus, memory and politics, militant activity, dictatorship and trauma, work, economy, ecology and environment, migration, exile and diaspora, natives and communities. The languages of exposition were mainly Spanish and English, and Portuguese in some sessions considering the vast presence of Brazilian professionals. This was an important step for integration, proving the empirical reality about the need of including Portuguese as the third official language of IOHA.
Regarding panels, even if some could not be held, let us discuss in depth some specific subjects such as community, the testimonies from dictatorship and genocide survivors and the development of oral history in Latin America. A remarkable aspect of the sessions was the possibility of a deeper debate about “how to do” oral history, making clear the methodological complexity and the step forward in the field of theatrical development of the different countries. The brotherly atmosphere in the sessions enabled the exchange between expositors and public that in some cases turned the sessions into real round tables. Among the expositors, we had the outstanding presence of the historians such as Igor Goicovic and Claudio Pérez from Chile, Marieta de Moraes Ferreira from Brazil, Eugenia Meyer and Silvia Dutrenit Bielous from Mexico, Mauricio Archila Neira from Colombia and Josefina Cuesta from Spain.
The closing ceremony was September 6th in Usina de las Artes, where the local committee offered a camaraderie lunch for foreign guests. Pablo Pozzi, President of AHORA, and Liliana Barela, President of the Local Organizing Committee, gave some reflexive words about professional ethics, new debates about oral history and archives, words that continue circulating for discussion even after the Conference. The closing also offered a show of Buenos Aires traditional music and dances, enthusiastically received by the audience.
As e result, we can state that the XVII International Oral History Conference introduced new discussions that include politics, ethics, academic issues, methodology and theory. It also help to make clear the quantitative and qualitative leap forward in Latin America, where most of the participants came from, consolidating a tendency in national and regional conferences in the continent. The exchange of experiences contributed to deepen networks and consolidate the links with IOHA, which should look for a greater democratization to make Oral History a tool for people, as it was expressed in various expositions during the Conference. From Argentina, we celebrate the success of the event and invite everybody to keep in touch, waiting for future academic meetings.

Two assemblies and a renewal of authorities
In the frame of the Conference, two assemblies were held. The first was the annual assembly of the Asociación de Historia Oral de la República Argentina, held on September 5th, where its members made a provisional evaluation of the Conference and set goals for the next year. One of the members, Yamile Álvarez from Mendoza, proposed to organize the next annual assembly, in which AHORA will renew its authorities, in that province, where the XIII Jornadas Interescuelas will take place in October 2013. The assembly also established a guideline for the realization of old and new projects. In this context, it was decided the position that the Asociación would take to de IOHA assembly, held on September 6th. In that occasion, members of IOHA discussed for more than two hours, voting a new Council composed by Mexican historian Ana María de la O Castellanos as President and Andrea Casa Nova from Brazil and Helen Klaebe from Australia as Vice Presidents. The strong presence of Latin Americans contributed to establish a representative of the Mexican Oral History Association in the presidency, guaranteeing rotation of charges in the Association.

Number of Visits: 3813


Full Name:

A Look at the Book “Operational Physicians-2”

Biography, Memories and Viewpoints of Dr. Mohammad Ali Attari, Professor and Specialist in Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine and Pain
In the book “Field Physicians 2”, after acknowledgement, we first come to a short text written by Dr. Mohammad Ali Attari, and on the next page to a photograph, as it is stated under the photo, taken with Professor Majid Samii in the operating room (Germany, Hannover). After that the content, the editor introduction, and then “Biography at a Glance” which is a six-page summary of the book text, are presented.
The Fourth Online Meeting of Iranian Oral History

Iranian Oral History beyond Borders – 2

Dr. Abolfazl Hasanabadi, Dr. Morteza Rasouli Pour, and Dr. Abolhasani participated in the fourth meeting out of the series of meetings on oral history in Iran held online on Saturday 11th of Dey 1400 (January 1, 2022) hosted by Mrs. Mosafa. In the meeting set up in the History Hallway of the Clubhouse, they talked about “Iran’s Oral History beyond Borders”. In continuation of the meeting, the host asked ...
Interview with Brigadier General Farzollah Shahin-Rad


We were supposed to experience a hot summer day at seven oclock in the afternoon. I got to his house in ten minutes to seven, but I knew that working with the militant had special rules. One of them is punctuality. I went up and down the alley several times to meet this Ironman at his house. When I saw him from afar at military conferences, his sense of toughness was evident in demeanor.
Book Review:

"You Must Survive"!

Memoirs of Haj Ali Karami, Commander of the "Habib ibn Madhahir" Battalion of the 10th Martyrs Division. "The bullet was hit in the middle of the column. There was no wounded or martyred person; whatever there was, it was just amputated arms and amputated legs and torn pieces of bodies that had been piled up... Once, I saw the forces of the Basij forces staring at those scenes in astonishment. I swallowed saliva and shouted: