[MGSA-L] CfP: Volos 25-27.5.2012

Roland Moore rolandmo at pacbell.net
Mon Jan 9 08:23:14 PST 2012

From: Tasoula Vervenioti <tasoula at otenet.gr>

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 scholarsin 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
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
	* 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
The international
experience has shown that oral history programmes developed in schools can
produce excellent results in the development of critical historical thought and
of the research abilities of students, but can also help them to reconnect with
the learning process when they have withdrawn. Which are the possibilities to
develop such programmes in Greece and what examples do we have already? In the
second place, now that education is rapidly changing all over Europe, it seems
particular important to study older educational practices and the way they are
changing today, by using oral sources.
	* 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: rvboe at yahoo.gr
The organizing
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
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