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CFP Deadline Extended: “Dangerous Oral Histories: Risks, Responsibilities, and Rewards”

Updated: Aug 29

CALL FOR PAPERS *The deadline for submission of proposals is now 10 January 2018.*

Oral History Society – 2018 Annual Conference Theme:  Dangerous Oral Histories:  Risks, Responsibilities and Rewards 28 & 29 June, 2018 Queen’s University, Belfast

This joint conference of the Oral History Society and the Oral History Network of Ireland addresses the ethical and legal implications of oral history research. It presents a timely opportunity to explore the many issues raised by challenging projects, such as:

  1. What is an acceptable level of risk for interviewees/interviewers in the oral history process?

  2. What are the new responsibilities of the oral historian in a digital age?

  3. What are the rewards for initiating ‘dangerous’ oral history projects on ‘difficult’ topics, and when do the risks outweigh them?

From this starting point, the conference organisers wish to solicit papers on all aspects of risk, responsibilities and rewards – and offer the following suggestions, whilst also welcoming other imaginative proposals addressing our theme of dangerous oral histories.

Conference sub-themes include:

  1. Methodology: personal safety, dangerous practices, the ethics of interviewing

  2. Risks and challenges for researchers: copyright, ownership and consent

  3. Interviewing on the edge: criminals, illegals, war survivors

  4. Working with victims: adapting process, practice and outputs

  5. Oral histories of conflict and struggle: community activists, security personnel, ex-combatants

  6. Oral history in totalitarian and post-totalitarian societies

  7. Oral histories of disasters and catastrophes

  8. Oral history’s relationship with official secrecy and security

  9. Interviewee risk in sharing/telling stories: re-traumatisation, ruptures within families/workplaces/communities

  10. Justice contexts: prison-based oral history

  11. Oral history, trauma and abuse: the unspoken

  12. Illness, death and end-of-life narratives

  13. Environmental risk and danger: disasters

  14. Work-based hazards and accidents

  15. Discord and danger in community history

  16. Sexuality narratives: discrimination, illness, illegality

  17. Reuse of archived oral histories on challenging and controversial topics

  18. Practical strategies for interviewers working in dangerous areas

  19. Ways of mitigating risk: risk assessment, training, the role of ethics committees

  20. Responsible collection and archiving practices: including the implications of the Boston College Project

  21. Teaching dangerous oral histories

  22. Museums as ‘safe’ spaces for dangerous and challenging oral histories


Each proposal should include:  a title, an abstract of between 250-300 words, your name (and the names of any co-presenters, panelists, etc.), your institution or organization, your email address, and a note of any particular requirements. Most importantly your abstract should demonstrate the use of oral history or personal testimony and be directly related to the conference theme. Proposals that include audio playback are strongly encourage.

Proposals should be emailed to the Dangerous Oral Histories Conference Administrator, Polly Owen, at Presenters will be contacted in January/February 2018.

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