Call for papers: Warwick Oral History Network conference: Talking about protest. Oral history methodology in social and political movements research, Saturday 6 July 2013, Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Warwick (Coventry, UK), Organizers: Angela Davis and Andrea Hajek

In 2011, protests across the globe placed social movements at the heart of media attention: from the Arab uprisings to the Occupy movements and the Spanish indignados (the ‘outraged’), the world seemed caught on a wave of rebellion. Protests against austerity policies and claims for democratic participation have increased since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008. Accordingly, academic interest in the study of social movements and protests has grown, in particular with regards to the role of social and mobile media, or the problem of violence and political repression. This one-day conference will engage with the politics of protest from a methodological perspective, focusing on the challenges, advantages and pitfalls of personal testimony and oral history sources in research on social movements and contentious politics at large.

The conference builds on an interdisciplinary seminar held at the University of Warwick in February 2011, entitled ‘Challenging dominant discourses of the past: 1968 and the value of oral history’. The proceedings of this seminar – recently published in the journal Memory Studies (Vol. 6.1) – will be presented during the conference which, however, extends the focus of research beyond the 1960s and 1970s. It also seeks to explore case studies from different geographical areas, at a local, national and global level, and representative of various forms and goals of collective action. Hence it is not limited to anti-authoritarian and anti-austerity politics alone. Its aim is to bring together researchers of both historical and contemporary social movements coming from a variety of disciplines (history, sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, memory studies, etc), on the one hand, and scholars of contentious politics and resistance more generally. The topic may be approached from both a practical and a thematic angle.

We invite people to submit proposals for presentations of 20-25 minutes. Papers should discuss the challenges/problems/additional value of oral history methodology in this type of research or present the outcomes of oral history interviews that have been performed as part of a research project.

Topics may include, but are by no means limited to:

  • the (dis)composure of individual and collective identities during the oral history interview
  • the impact of external factors (e.g. sexuality, class, age and ethnicity) on the formation of subjectivities during the oral history interview
  • the inter-subjective relation between narrator and listener
  • ethics and legal issues
  • talking about delicate topics such as political violence and sexual discrimination
  • mutual trust and reliability
  • authority and ‘possessive’ memory
  • silences and competition
  • intergenerational memory/transference of memories of protest
  • the implementation of oral history research on contentious politics

Please send abstracts of 150-200 words to Andrea Hajek (andreahajek(at)gmail.com). Deadline for submissions is Sunday 14 April 2013.

For more information see the conference site

For details on the Oral History Network and the Institute of Advanced Study

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